California becomes first state to offer health insurance to some undocumented immigrants2 min read

Some undocumented immigrants in California will now have access to health insurance through the state’s Medi-Cal program. This month California became the first state to pass legislation allowing any undocumented immigrants to receive health insurance.

Low income undocumented immigrants between the ages of 19-25 will now gain entrance to the state provided medicaid health coverage. Undocumented children have already been granted eligibility for access to Medi-Cal. It is estimated that this new legislation will cover around 90,000 undocumented young adults and cost around $98 million per year. California plans to pay for this in part by taxing individuals without health insurance, similar to the original policy of mandate penalty associated with Obama Care.

Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, said, “While a handful of states cover all income-eligible children and pregnant women, California will become the first state to remove the exclusion for other adults, recognizing our health system is stronger when more people can get primary and preventive care.” More than two million undocumented immigrants live in California, making it even more important for the government to prioritize creating legislation that allows for those individuals to access needed services, such as health care.

Los Angeles Senator Holly Mitchell said of the new legislation, “California believes that health is a fundamental right.” California has also created pathways in the past several years for undocumented immigrants living in the state to get driver’s licenses, in-state tuition, university scholarships, and student loans. Additionally the state became a sanctuary state in 2017 to take measures to help protect undocumented immigrants living there from being detained and/or deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcment (ICE).

This legislation passed in both the State Assembly and Senate with a great amount of support. Democrats currently rule both branches of the government in California.

How might other states enact similar legislation? What laws about undocumented immigrants exist in your area?

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I work as an advocate for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and facilitate a LGBTQ+ survivors support group. I have a B.L.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies, with concentrations in Psychology, Sociology, and English. I grew up in rural Southeast Alaska, and live now in Bellingham, Washington with my dog Fathom. I write for Kindling because I believe in the innate value of each of us and I am inspired by the existence of goodness in our collective humanity.

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