Proof-of-Citizenship Law Concerns Health Leaders
Local health leaders are concerned that a new proof-of-citizenship law will prevent some residents eligible for Medi-Cal from receiving benefits, the Oakland Tribune reports. The law took effect nationwide on July 1, but California will not implement it for another 60 to 90 days, according to Department of Health Services Director Sandra Shewry.
Shewry met with other state health officials and local health leaders on Friday to discuss Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) health initiatives -- including additional school-based health clinics, legislation to provide discounts on prescription drugs and efforts to increase enrollment in children's health insurance programs.
However, the Tribune reports that the proof-of-citizenship law was "chief on the minds of local community health leaders" (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 7/29).
Under the law, individuals seeking care through Medicaid must show proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a birth certificate, passport or other form of identification. The law's intent is to prevent undocumented immigrants from claiming to be citizens in order to receive benefits provided only to legal residents (California Healthline, 7/10).
Jane Garcia, CEO of La Clinica De La Raza, said it "would be helpful" if the state "could just do something about immigrant children and requiring documentation of citizenship."
Ralph Silber, executive director of the community-clinic network Alameda Health Consortium, said he was concerned that many people eligible for benefits would lose coverage under the law.
Shewry said the state would work to help people who are eligible for Medi-Cal retain benefits, despite lack of citizenship documentation. Individuals, such as the mentally ill or foster youth, who may have problems obtaining the documents are "[o]f particular concern" to health care advocates, the Tribune reports (Oakland Tribune, 7/29).