Tuesday provided huge momentum to the effort to ensure care for all Californians regardless of immigration status.
CA LEGISLATIVE LEADERS ENDORSE IMMIGRANT RIGHTS PACKAGE INCLUDING SB4(LARA) HEALTH EXPANSION: First, key legislative leaders, including Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins announced their support for a package of immigrant rights bills, including the #Health4All measure SB4 (Lara), which came out with new amendments today, and which may be heard as early as next week on April 15th in Senate Health Committee.
Legislators made the point that California’s health system is stronger when everyone, regardless of immigration status, has access to affordable care. Today we are seeing momentum at both the county and statewide level, to making sure all Californians get the care they need, to the benefit f the health system we all rely on. Just as our communities and economy benefit if all children can go to school, and our roads are safer if all drivers can be licensed and insured, our health system is stronger if everyone has access to primary and preventive care, and not subject to the financial insecurity of being uninsured. Immigrants are a crucial part of our economy and society, they should be part of our health system as well.
FRESNO COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS VOTE 3-2 TO CONTINUE REVAMPED INDIGENT CARE PROGRAM. At the same time, Fresno County Board of Supervisors allocated $5 million for a revamped county indigent care program, to provide specialty care for the remaining uninsured otherwise excluded from Medi-Cal and other programs. This was the culmination of nearly two years of debate and discussion, which almost led to Fresno being the only county in the state to roll back eligibility in health coverage since the Affordable Care Act was passed. With this vote, Fresno County continues to provide at least some basic health care to all their indigent residents, and continues to be one of 10 counties that provides non-emergency care to the undocumented, as documented in a recent Health Access report: http://www.health-access.org/images/pdfs/CountySafetyNetReportSurveyResults3-12-15.pdf
Fresno’s action is a lifeline not just for the Fresno families directly impacted, but is an important indicator for inclusion that crosses county lines. Fresno was the only county that was considering rolling back eligibility in their indigent care program. The fact that Fresno is continuing their decades-long commitment to provide indigent care—even in a different way—helps build momentum for a statewide solution. We hope that this Fresno program becomes a bridge to a statewide solution like SB4(Lara), which would expand Medi-Cal without regard to immigration status.
These policy efforts required some upfront investments but are fiscally prudent, taking advantage of existing resources spent on emergency services and existing funding streams. It is more efficient and effective to cover primary and preventive care rather than more costly emergency care. Both the movements for health reform and immigrant rights have made a lot of progress in recent years, and we have new momentum this week for this next important step.