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California to Extend Healthcare to More Undocumented Immigrants

By George Khoury, Esq. on June 12, 2019

A recent move from the California legislature is making it look very likely that the most recently proposed budget, which needs to be passed in just a few days, will include a provision to provide qualifying undocumented immigrants between the ages of 19 and 26 with the opportunity to sign up for and receive Medi-Cal.

California, along with a handful of other states, already provides health care to undocumented minors with a demonstrated need. However, the move to provide Medi-Cal access to undocumented young adults is reportedly a first in the nation. And not surprisingly, for the wealthy state of California, the projected $100 million budget line is easily doable thanks to a historically large surplus in the budget.

Health Care for Almost All

Notably, California requires those in the state to carry individual health care or face a fine, much like the Affordable Care Act did before having that provision removed in 2017. The fines paid by individuals who refuse to sign up for a health care plan are earmarked to be used to subsidize what middle income families pay. Additionally, the income-litmus for qualifying has been increased to 600% over the poverty line, meaning a family of 4 making $150,000 per year would still qualify for state-subsidized health care.

While some states might balk at the idea of spending state funds on undocumented immigrant healthcare, the state of California is still looking at a $21 billion surplus after that expenditure. Additionally, undocumented workers in the state tend to fill a vital role in the state’s economy, particularly in the agricultural and service industries, such that it is in the state’s best interest to ensure that the undocumented immigrants in the state can access the same basic health care available to the state’s residents.

Unfortunately for undocumented immigrants over the age of 26, the new budget doesn't include anything for them. Despite some California lawmakers pushing for Medi-Cal expansion to cover undocumented seniors, that bid was rejected by both the Governor and other state lawmakers.

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