Executive Action Could Open Medi-Cal to Undocumented Immigrants
Advocates say that undocumented immigrants in California who qualify for deferred deportation under President Obama's recent executive action could be eligible for Medi-Cal if they meet the program's income requirements, KQED's "State of Health" reports.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (Aliferis, "State of Health," KQED, 11/20).
Details of Executive Action
On Thursday, Obama announced a plan to allow up to five million 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 to apply for a program to avoid deportation (Hecht/Magagnini, Sacramento Bee, 11/20).
Under federal law, such undocumented immigrants still are not eligible for health benefits under the Affordable Care Act, according to "State of Health."
Implications for Immigrants in California
California Department of Health Care Services spokesperson Tony Cava said the department has not yet determined the effect Obama's executive action will have in California.
However, some advocates predict that California law will extend Medi-Cal benefits to immigrants who are affected by the executive action.
Gabrielle Lessard, a health policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, said that affected immigrants will "be in the same situation" as those who qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative ("State of Health," KQED, 11/20).
In 2012, President Obama developed DACA, which grants undocumented children legal status and authorization to work in the U.S. for two-year periods. Although Medicaid expansion under the ACA bars coverage for undocumented immigrants, a caveat in California allows those with "deferred action status" to gain coverage (California Healthline, 6/18).
Ronald Coleman, government affairs manager at the California Immigrant Policy Center, said that about one million of the five million undocumented immigrants who will be affected by the executive action live in California. However, he noted that not all of those individuals would be eligible for Medi-Cal because about 40% receive employer-sponsored coverage, while others receive an annual income that is too high to qualify for Medi-Cal ("State of Health," KQED, 11/20).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.