No Money in Brown’s Budget for Health Care for Undocumented
Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) recently released fiscal year 2015-2016 budget proposal lacks funding to provide health coverage to undocumented immigrants in the state, KQED's "State of Health" reports (Aliferis, "State of Health," KQED, 1/9).
Background on Brown's Budget Proposal
Last week, Brown released his $113.3 billion FY 2015-2016 budget plan, which includes several health care proposals.
According to the budget, Medi-Cal will account for two-thirds of overall health and human services spending in the coming fiscal year. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
Meanwhile, Brown's office in a release also noted that unfunded liability in the state's retiree health care programs currently is an estimated $72 billion. To address the unfunded liability, the budget plan proposes that "the state and its employees ... share equally in the pre-funding of retiree health benefits, to be phased in as labor contracts come up for renewal." The budget estimates that such a move would result in savings of nearly $200 billion over the next 50 years.
The proposal also includes continued funding for overtime pay for In-Home Supportive Services (California Healthline, 1/9). Specifically, Brown's proposal would end a 7% reduction in IHSS hours.
Health Care for Undocumented Immigrants Missing From Budget
According to "State of Health," the budget proposal does not set aside money to expand health coverage to include undocumented immigrants in the state.
When asked about providing health coverage to such residents, Brown said, "There's not a lot of money left in the budget ... It's very tight."
Further, the proposal does not include funding to expand Medi-Cal to undocumented immigrants in California who now are protected from deportation under President Obama's recent executive action on immigration ("State of Health," KQED, 1/9).
In November 2014, 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.
Under federal law, such undocumented immigrants still are not eligible for health benefits under the Affordable Care Act. However, some advocates have predicted that California law will extend Medi-Cal benefits to immigrants who are affected by the executive action (California Healthline, 12/4/14).
In addition, immigrants who qualified for Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival initiative also are eligible for Medi-Cal coverage.
Linda Nguy of the Western Center on Law and Poverty said, "We were very disappointed that [undocumented immigrants] were not included in the Medi-Cal estimates."
However, Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access, said his group still "will push this year to ensure access to coverage for all Californians, regardless of immigration status" ("State of Health," KQED, 1/9).
For more on bargaining on Brown's budget plan, see today's "Capitol Desk" post.
Meanwhile, state Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) said the budget proposal "maintains a prudent and responsible approach to state spending," noting that it increases funding for "implementing health care reform" while addressing the state's other needs (Mendoza release, 1/9).
State Republican lawmakers lauded Brown's proposal as fiscally responsible (Mason/McGreevy, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 1/9).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.