Efforts To Cover Uninsured Overlook Undocumented Residents
Undocumented immigrants in California could present challenges to establishing universal health care coverage in the state, the Oakland Tribune reports.
About 45% of documented and undocumented noncitizens in California are uninsured, according to the California HealthCare Foundation. It is unknown how many of the state's estimated 6.5 million uninsured are undocumented immigrants.
Latinos, who comprise the majority of undocumented immigrants in the state, are 2 1/2 times more likely to be uninsured than whites and account for more than half of the uninsured population in the state, according to Marian Mulkey, senior program officer for CHCF.
Lawmakers have proposed several bills that are in some ways similar to a health insurance law recently enacted in Massachusetts, but "how to include undocumented immigrants has not been in the forefront of the debate," according to the Tribune.
Meanwhile, efforts to insure all children in California, regardless of their immigration status, "appear to have the most political momentum of any health initiative," the Tribune reports.
About 90% of children in the state have some form of health insurance, but 800,000 to 1.1 million children remain uninsured. Nearly 70% of uninsured children live in families in which the head of the household works full time, according to CHCF.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has proposed spending $72 million to enroll more children in Healthy Families and Medi-Cal. Legislation (SB 437) also has been proposed to provide comprehensive health insurance to all children in the state. Similar bills were vetoed by Schwarzenegger last fall.
In addition, a proposed measure for the November ballot would increase the tobacco tax by $2.60 per pack of cigarettes to pay for children's health insurance, fund hospital emergency departments and other programs (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 4/16).