Above, Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) speaks at a press briefing in Los Angeles Friday. Photos by Rudy Cardoso-Peraza.
Undocumented children in California are now able to receive health insurance though the state’s low-income health program, Medi-Cal.
That is thanks to SB4, otherwise known as the Health For All Kids Act, which took effect May 16. Signed by Gov. Brown in October, the law expands full-scope Medi-Cal to all low-income children regardless of immigration status. The author of the bill, Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), spoke at a press briefing Friday in Los Angeles.
The event was part of Lara’s #Health4AllKids Road to Enrollment Tour, a statewide push including visits to seven cities to raise awareness and encourage those families eligible to apply for health care.
“It is sad that children – until Monday that is – [had] to worry about hospital bills instead of their grades,” said Lara.
All low-income undocumented children and youth under the age of 19 will be able to receive access to Medi-Cal’s free or low cost preventive services such as annual check ups, dental, and mental health services.
185,000 children are expected to benefit from the expansion, according to updated figures from California’s Heath and Human Services Agency.
In attendance at the event along with Lara were Univision’s health expert Doctor Aliza A. Lifshitz, The California Endowment President and CEO Dr. Robert K. Ross, and a crowd of community members and supporters.
The expansion is initially expected to cost the state about $45 million, according to the Health and Human Services Agency. Figures from Lara’s office show the cost could reach $132 million each year after. At the event, Lara said that California will benefit financially by providing healthcare to undocumented children in need.
“The roof is not going to fall if we give undocumented immigrants healthcare,” said Lara. “We’re actually going to save money in the state and have preventative services so people don’t end up in emergency rooms.”
Southern California Program Director for Health Access, Nancy Marisa Gomez, also praised the law.
“We in California are going to start as leaders and show the rest of the nation that we value immigrants, that we value California, and most especially, that we value children,” said Gomez.