California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Report: 125K ‘Deferred Action’ Immigrants Qualify for Medi-Cal

As many as 125,000 young California undocumented immigrants eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program also could qualify for Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program, according to a report by researchers at the UC-Berkeley Labor Center, the Los Angeles Times' "Money & Co." reports.

Background on DACA

In 2012, President Obama developed DACA, which grants undocumented children legal status and authorization to work in the United States for two-year periods.

To be eligible for the program, children must:

  • Have arrived in the U.S. before age 16;
  • Be under age 31 as of June 2012; and
  • Have continually lived in the U.S since 2007.

Although Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act bars coverage for undocumented immigrants, a caveat in California allows those with "deferred action status" to gain coverage.

Details of Report

The report found that of the 154,000 individuals who qualified for DACA as of December 2013, about 81% -- or 125,000 -- are eligible for Medi-Cal coverage based on their income.

According to the report, about 82% of DACA-eligibles are Latino.

Laurel Lucia, a policy analyst at UC-Berkeley who authored the report, said data on how many DACA-eligibles have enrolled in Medi-Cal are not yet available. However, Lucia noted that fear of deportation could have kept many from signing up.

Federal officials have said information provided by individuals applying for health coverage will not be used to pursue undocumented immigrants (Karlamangla, "Money & Co.," Los Angeles Times, 2/25).

This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.