On Monday morning, hundreds of health and immigrant rights advocates convened on the steps of the Capitol to rally in support of “Health For All,” press legislators to pass bills like SB 10 (Lara) and SB 1418 (Lara), and celebrate the historic first day of expanding comprehensive Medi-Cal to undocumented children in California.
The “Health4All” rally and lobby day was on the same day of the implementation of “Health4All Kids,” a measure allowing all low-income children, regardless of immigration status, to enroll in full-scope Medi-Cal (California’s version of Medicaid). Starting May 16, all income-eligible children have access to comprehensive, zero-cost or low-cost Medi-Cal benefits, including dental and mental health coverage as well as the full array of health benefits.
Advocates also called on legislators to take action for the undocumented adults and families who remain excluded from health coverage. Moved by the passage of last year’s historic “Health4All Kids” measure, advocates are now urging lawmakers to provide coverage to their families and undocumented adults through bills currently moving in the legislature such as SB 10 and SB 1418. The Health4All Coalition continues to advocate for expanding full-scope Medi-Cal to all low-income undocumented adults and allowing undocumented immigrants to purchase coverage through Covered California.
Here are the comments of our Executive Director Anthony Wright:
Below are other comments from a range of Health4All coalition partners:
“Allowing all Californians to buy health insurance through Covered California regardless of immigration status would make our health system stronger; California should conform our custom of inclusion, and seek a waiver from this counterproductive exclusion in the federal law. This proposal is not just a benefit for working immigrant families to more easily sign up for coverage, but would be a boon for the health system on which we all rely. We are all better off if we all have access to primary and preventive care and the financial security that comes with coverage,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition
“Today’s Health4All lobby day is an affirmation of the momentum and support behind building an inclusive vision of health care, so that no one is excluded from coverage, no matter where they were born. With today’s first day of enrollment to full-scope Medi-Cal coverage for undocumented children, we celebrate a historic first step in the fight for Health for All. Now we call on our legislators to support SB 10 and SB 1418 so that undocumented adults and mixed-status families across California can access health coverage and enroll together. California is stronger when everyone is covered,” said Cynthia Buiza, Executive Director, California Immigrant Policy Center.
“Today marks a major milestone for thousands of immigrant families and for the future of California. The expansion of health coverage to every low-income child in California, no matter where they were born, is an investment in their ability to learn today and contribute to our communities tomorrow. And as we celebrate this important victory, we must recognize the work is not complete until all family members can enroll in quality, affordable coverage. If we want every child to have a bright future, let’s provide coverage to all Californians, regardless of immigration status,” said Mayra E. Alvarez, President, The Children’s Partnership.
“California is built on the dreams of immigrant families in search of a better future for their children,” said Alex Johnson, Executive Director, Children’s Defense Fund-California. “Now these children will have the health coverage they need to survive and thrive. California is taking a historic step to level the playing field so that all children in the state have a healthy start in life.”
“The California Black Health Network is proud that as of today all undocumented children in our state will qualify for full-scope Medi-Cal. With this momentous victory, we urge legislators to vote in favor of SB 10 and extend health coverage to all Californians. California is home to immigrants from all over the world, including countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America. California needs to continue leading the effort to provide affordable and accessible health care to all families regardless of immigration status,” said Doretha Williams-Flournoy, Interim President and CEO, California Black Health Network.
“We have achieved a victory for California children and thanks to the ACA, close to 125,000 young adults in California with DACA are now eligible for Medi-Cal coverage. But current state law allows arbitrary barriers like income to prevent many young people from getting the health care coverage they need,” said Gustavo Herrera, Director of Young Invincibles’ Western region. “Access to health care is a human right that should be available to all. We urge lawmakers to support SB 10 and ensure that one dollar or one piece of paper doesn’t determine who gets quality, affordable health care.”
“Medi-Cal has been the driving force in cutting the state’s rate of child uninsurance in half since 2001 and it’s exciting we are on the cusp of finally ensuring that all children in California have access to the health coverage they need,” said Kelly Hardy, Senior Managing Director of Health Policy at Children Now. “It’s also important to remind families that Medi-Cal enrollment is open all year round.”
“California has taken a bold and compassionate step forward to improve the health of our children and our communities. It is my sincerest hope that our momentum continues and that one day we can say we have achieved health for all,” said Carmela Castellano-Garcia, President and CEO, CaliforniaHealth+ Advocates.
“Health4All Kids is just the beginning to assuring health care access to all undocumented youth regardless of immigration status. Through our grassroots advocacy and partnership with champions like Senator Ricardo Lara and other state legislature representatives we will get the job done in making Health4All for all undocumented Californians a California budget priority,” said Maribel Nunez, Director, California Partnership.
“We are thrilled that California is on track to begin health care coverage for all children on May 16th. This is an enormous investment in our state’s future and a giant step towards eliminating health disparities in our state. Moving forward, we hope to see more investments like this in health care for all so adults can enjoy the same benefits as their children,” said Sarah de Guia, Executive Director, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network.