Undocumented Immigrants Account for $1B in Medi-Cal Spending
Medi-Cal currently spends about $1 billion annually for health care services for undocumented immigrants, the Sacramento Bee reports. Medi-Cal spending for undocumented immigrants increased by about 50% over the past decade, while overall Medi-Cal spending has increased by about 100% over the same time period.
Republican legislators last month succeeded in removing funding for health care benefits for undocumented immigrant children from the state budget, but federal law mandates Medicaid coverage of some services for undocumented immigrants. California funds additional services for undocumented immigrants who are otherwise eligible for Medi-Cal.
For example, federal law mandates that undocumented immigrants receive emergency care and provides funds to offset the cost of such treatment. The federal government also provides funds for prenatal care for undocumented immigrants.
Without federal funding assistance, Medi-Cal reimburses for breast and cervical cancer treatment, nursing home care and abortions. Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for primary care benefits under Medi-Cal.
California provides an additional $100 million for health care benefits for children who are ineligible for federally subsidized health care benefits, typically because of citizenship status.
Medi-Cal data indicate that about 780,000 undocumented immigrants monthly are enrolled in the program for emergency care or other limited benefits. However, the Santa Monica-based Insure the Uninsured Project says that the number of undocumented immigrants receiving treatment under Medi-Cal is closer to about 200,000 monthly (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 7/9).