Officials, Groups Seek To Provide Health Coverage for Immigrants in Calif.
Public health officials, elected representatives and advocacy groups in California are looking for ways to provide preventive care for undocumented immigrants, the New York Times reports (Medina, New York Times, 6/21).
Under the Affordable Care Act, undocumented immigrants are excluded from new coverage opportunities, including state health insurance exchanges and Medicaid expansions (California Healthline, 3/25).
In California -- which has an estimated 2.6 million undocumented immigrants -- officials expect such individuals to make up the largest share of the remaining uninsured residents in the state following the expansion of Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program.
Officials in Los Angeles and other counties with large immigrant populations say that not including immigrants in coverage will cost local governments more over time.
Daniel Zingale -- senior vice president with the California Endowment -- said, "California has really acknowledged that all immigrants who are here are part of our present and our future," adding, "It doesn't take much to figure out these people will be driving our economy in the decades to come, so it's in our interest to keep them healthy."
Some public health officials say that current proposals in Congress to prohibit immigrants seeking citizenship from receiving federal subsidies for health care would force local governments to absorb the cost.
Mitchell Katz -- director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services -- said, "I'm worried that if the federal government isn't willing to pay, the question will become, 'Why should the counties pay?'"
Don Knabe -- a Los Angeles County supervisor -- said, "We're the ones who have to deal with the people who show up," adding, "We can't just shut our doors, which sometimes you might like to do. You don't want millions of sick people walking around."
Diana Dooley -- California's secretary of health and human services -- said that while Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) administration is not opposed to the idea of offering preventive care to undocumented immigrants,Â it likely would be reluctant to pay for more health care services in general.She said, "We just can't do everything everyone wants us to do," adding, "We're already in the middle of a very ambitious undertaking [to implement the ACA], so it's strictly a question of how much we can do and how fast" (New York Times, 6/21). 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.