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Health Equity Forum: Executive Director Article – May 2016

Health4All Kids Implementation is Here

The countdown to coverage for ALL kids has begun! After years of advocacy and collaboration between health care and immigrants’ rights advocates, California will offer Medi-Cal coverage to all eligible children regardless of immigration status beginning May 16th.                          

Under the new law, children and youth who are currently enrolled in “restricted” (emergency) Medi-Cal will have full coverage including preventive care services, without having to submit a new application. Children and youth who are not currently enrolled in restricted scope Medi-Cal coverage will need to submit an application. This new initiative will benefit approximately 170,000 children in our state.

To help families enroll, advocates focused on children’s health, immigrant rights, and consumer advocates have been sharing multilingual resources including health4allkids.org. On May 10, CPEHN joined other advocates in tweeting out important facts and resources for newly insured. Additionally Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) who authored this landmark legislation is promoting enrollment through a series of media events held throughout the state running from May 12-16th in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Coachella, Orange County, Sacramento, and Fresno. 

The work is not done. Over a million undocumented immigrant adults are still without coverage.

Recent efforts at the state and county levels have begun working towards expanding access to care for adults. For example, Covered California recently approved the first step in permitting DACA recipients and undocumented residents to purchase health coverage without subsidies through the exchange. The bill connected with this proposal, SB 10, now heads to the legislature for approval. This is an important avenue to ensure families can purchase health insurance together through Covered California.

Additionally local counties, including Sacramento, Contra Costa, Monterey, and the 35 counties served through the County Medical Services Program (CMSP), are extending new benefits to the remaining uninsured also expected to begin in May.

As Dr. Ross from The California Endowment reminds us, creating change begins with changing the narrative, empowering the voices of communities, and building the relationships and alliances necessary to change policies. Nearly 10 years ago, advocates had a dream of reforming California’s health care system, and making more accessible for all. Today that dream is becoming a reality for hundreds of thousands of immigrant children. Our work continues through our strong alliances and community voices to ensure Health4All is achieved!