Advocates Say Calif. Immigrants Are Wrongly Denied Health Coverage
On Wednesday, lawmakers and advocates warned that insufficient communication between public agencies has caused "potentially thousands" of California immigrants eligible for deferred action status to be denied health coverage, the Sacramento Bee reports (White, Sacramento Bee, 7/23).
In 2012, President Obama developed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, 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:
- Be under age 31 as of June 2012;
- Have arrived in the U.S. before age 16; 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 (California Healthline, 6/18).
Details of Concerns
On Wednesday, Assembly member Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) said, "There are potentially thousands of people with deferred action status, who came to this country as children, who have been turned away locally and across the state when they go to the county office to sign up for Medi-Cal." Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
Pan added, "They are being denied the opportunity to see a doctor, the opportunity to get their medication, being denied access to treatment."
Cathy Senderling-McDonald, deputy executive director of the County Welfare Directors Association of California, said immigrants likely are being denied health care in part because the new system that the state adopted to handle Medi-Cal enrollment does not accurately portray applicants' deferred action status.
Senderling-McDonald said, "We have asked the state to expedite further instructions" about the system.
Response From Calif. Officials
In an email, California Department of Health Care Services spokesperson Norman Williams said the agency is "aware of some confusion concerning this issue, and we have been communicating with county welfare departments to provide clarification on DACA issues when necessary."
He added that DHCS is "currently working to provide counties with additional guidance on the process of enrolling these individuals into Medi-Cal coverage" (Sacramento Bee, 7/23).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.