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Tuesday Tidbits: Health Insurance and Demographics of California Immigrants Eligible for Deferred Action

Tuesday Tidbits: Health Insurance and Demographics of California Immigrants Eligible for Deferred Action

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Today is Cesar Chavez Day, a celebration of a man who helped organize California’s farmworkers, a largely immigrant population, in a movement to achieve basic rights. Four decades later, that work continues, as immigrants and advocates across California, and the country, work to secure the right to health care.

Last November, we witnessed a victory for the immigrant rights movement when President Barack Obama issued executive actions expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and creating a new program, Deferred Action for Parents U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). These actions allowed millions of undocumented immigrants across the country to stay without fear of deportation. It also opened the door to public health care programs for millions.

In a new report, Health Insurance and Demographics of California Immigrants Eligible for Deferred Action, the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education found that as many as 500,000 immigrants living in California would become eligible for Medi-Cal if they receive temporary protection from deportation and permission to work as a result of President Obama’s executive actions. While this population is not eligible for benefits under the Affordable Care Act, California state policy makes them eligible for Medi-Cal if they are in a family making under a certain income threshold.

However, the report also cautions that even after DACA and DAPA are fully implemented, many undocumented immigrants in California will remain uninsured. This brief will be a valuable resource as SB 4 (Lara), the Health for All Act, makes its way through the legislature this year. The bill would expand Medi-Cal to cover all Californians under the income threshold, regardless of immigration status.

This quote from the press release on the brief encapsulates the importance of this research:

"This report gives us an important new insight on how many people are still locked out of health coverage. Now that we’ve seen these numbers, we can all work together to make sure everyone gets enrolled,” said Daniel Zingale, a Senior Vice President for The California Endowment, which funded the research. "People shouldn’t suffer or die because of their immigration status. The president’s executive action brings us a step closer to securing a healthier future for everyone, but even still, there will be others who are locked out of affordable coverage, and California needs to finish the job.”

On a day like today, Cesar Chavez Day, it’s good to know that this research is being done and that so many across the state are working so that California can indeed finish the job and allow all its residents, including its large immigrant population, to access health coverage.

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