Counties, State Mull Health Care for Undocumented Residents
County and state officials are considering policy changes to provide health care services for undocumented residents, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Background on Undocumented Residents' Access to Care
Under the Affordable Care Act, undocumented immigrants are not eligible for health care coverage (Sangree, Sacramento Bee, 3/20).
However, California has taken several steps to provide health coverage to undocumented residents.
Immigrants in the state who qualified for Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival initiative are eligible for Medi-Cal coverage. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
In addition, under an executive action by President Obama last year, Medi-Cal coverage could be extended to up to 500,000 undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years and who have no record of felony offenses or serious misdemeanors.
Further, a bill (SB 1005) being considered by the state Legislature would allow low-income undocumented immigrants to receive Medi-Cal coverage, while others with higher incomes could buy plans with state-funded subsidies (California Healthline, 1/22).
Meanwhile, counties are responsible for determining care options for indigent residents who do not quality for government assistance.
According to the Bee, most large urban areas in California -- such as Los Angeles and San Francisco -- cover the cost of care for undocumented workers. However, many smaller counties in the state do not. In addition, Sacramento, Yolo and Contra Costa counties all ended health care coverage for undocumented immigrants in 2009 because of the recession.
Last week, Sacramento County supervisors discussed restoring health care benefits for low-income undocumented residents.
Health officials estimate that there are tens of thousands of undocumented residents in Sacramento County. According to officials, providing care to a portion of that population could cost millions of dollars.
Sacramento County supervisors asked county staff members to provide more detailed estimates on cost, as well as descriptions of the various program options, in about two months.
Experts say Sacramento's actions could influence health policy at a state level.
Meanwhile, Fresno County supervisors soon will vote on a plan to provide specialized care to undocumented immigrants (Sacramento Bee, 3/20).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.