Half of California’s undocumented immigrants — about 1.4 million — have incomes low enough to qualify for full Medi-Cal benefits should California legislative proposals to offer coverage to the undocumented ever be enacted.
That is among the key findings of a Public Policy Institute of California report released Monday night which examines current policy options to provide health coverage to the state’s undocumented immigrants.
Medicaid, called Medi-Cal in this state, is a government funded healthcare program for the poor and disabled. While it is unavailable to most undocumented immigrants, Gov. Jerry Brown in June signed a state budget that for the first time funds the plan for an estimated 170,000 children under age 19 living in California illegally. The cost of the plan, expected to begin next year, is $40 million, rising to $132 million annually over time.
But Medi-Cal for undocumented adults — who were included in the original legislation proposed by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens — was dropped after the state estimated the cost at more than $1 billion. Lara has said he plans to push ahead with a plan to provide comprehensive Medi-Cal benefits to those whose incomes are low enough to qualify.
The PPIC report looks at such a proposal, as well as one that would authorize the state to seek a federal waiver allowing those with higher incomes to pay full price for health plans through Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange established under the Obamacare.