Expanded Health Benefits for Illegal Alien Kids in California

Thousands of demonstrators begin their downtown march to City Hall in one of several May Day marches and rallies in southern California and in at least 75 cities nationwide to press for immigrant and labor rights on May 1, 2007 in Los Angeles, California.
David McNew/Getty Images

On Monday, California began covering health care for poor illegal aliens under the age of 19.

State enrollment estimates in the first year are expected to hit 185,000 of the 250,000 eligible minors, say state officials cited by the Associated Press. Legislative analysis of SB 4, the follow-up bill to shore up implementation of an earlier illegal alien public health care expansion bill, SB 75, details a budget allocation of $40 million toward the expansion. “Ongoing annual costs are estimated at $132 million General Fund.”

Among supporters of SB 4 were California’s most powerful unions and immigrant activist organizations. including the National Council of La Raza, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, the California Teachers Association and SEIU California.

Enrollment coordinator Claudia Carolina is working with schools in Los Angeles to publicize the program. The AP noted that outside the state Capitol, “health care and immigrant rights advocates celebrating the expansion turned their attention to their next goals. They want Medi-Cal – the state’s version of Medicaid – to cover income-eligible adults who migrated illegally …”.

An online KCRA 3 News poll via Facebook asked, “Should minors brought illegally to the U.S. be allowed to sign up for state-funded health care?” Respondents overwhelmingly said no: 62 percent rejected the idea, compared to 38 percent who said yes.

A bill analysis of SB 75 explains that it does the following:

Expands full-scope Medi-Cal coverage to children, regardless of immigration status, who currently would be eligible for Medi-Cal if not for immigration status, beginning when the department declares that systems are ready for implementation, but no sooner than May 1, 2016. Requires children eligible in this category to enroll in Medi-Cal managed care. Requires DHCS to seek federal financial participation (FFP), but requires coverage to be provided regardless of FFP. Requires DHCS to provide a semiannual status report to the Legislature until regulations have been adopted.

During a Los Angeles stop of the Chicago-based Rep. Luis Gutierrez’s (D-IL) National Immigration Action Tour of the United States, one audience member asked what would happen to her children if, presumably as illegal aliens, could not get on Obamacare. AB 60 specialist Carlos Leon explained that “there is insurance available for undocumented individuals and it does not have to be Obamacare.” AB 60 is the California law that allows illegal aliens to obtain driver’s licenses and disallows communication of immigration status from those licenses between Department of Motor Vehicles officials and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.

Around 75 percent of unattended alien children (UAC) that entered the United States in fiscal year 2015 were ages 14 through 17, according to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement fact sheet. More than two-thirds of the total UACs were male in FY2015. 91 percent came from Guatemala, El Salvador or Honduras in that time frame.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana 


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