A Historic Step for Children’s Health and Well-Being in California

Photo: The California Endowment Facebook page

All children—no matter who they are or where they are from—should have the opportunity to be healthy and reach their full potential. On May 16, California took a historic step toward this goal by providing all children who are income-eligible the opportunity for full coverage through Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid program) regardless of immigration status.

Estimates suggest that upwards of 170,000 children will be eligible. Kids who are insured through programs like Medicaid do better in the classroom and have greater economic opportunity as adults.

But this historic moment in California’s history did not just happen on its own. Thanks to the bold leadership of State Senator Ricardo Lara as well as a tremendous organizing effort from health, immigrant rights, and children’s groups, as well as others in the advocacy community, SB 75 or Health4AllKids is now a reality. While it is not the first state to provide coverage to all children regardless of status (Washington state, DC, New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts have implemented similar laws), California is the largest.

Boy with thermometer croppedWho’s eligible?

Children younger than 19, regardless of immigration status, whose families have incomes at or below 266% of the federal poverty level are eligible. This means that a family of four, for example, would need to have a yearly income at or below $64,638.

How to enroll

There are three ways to enroll in Medi-Cal coverage.

  • For in-person help, visit California Health Plus or call (855) 899-7587.
  • To apply online, visit Covered California.
  • Call California’s 2-1-1 information and referral service, which is available 24/7, provides bilingual services, and is free.

NCLR’s California Affiliates are serving a critical role

We know too well that immigrant and mixed-status families face unique vulnerabilities when it comes to participating in programs they or their loved ones are eligible for. Immigration concerns around deportation, public charge, and other circumstances can have a chilling effect. Organizations and leaders know their communities, have the trust and relationships, and understand the most appropriate and effective ways to reach the community. They know these elements are critical to implementing SB 75.

Sen. Ricardo Lara on the #Health4AllKids tour. Photo: The California Endowment Facebok page
Sen. Ricardo Lara on the #Health4AllKids tour. Photo: The California Endowment Facebok page

We’re proud of the role our California Affiliate Network is playing in outreach and enrollment. During the recent California Policy Summit in Sacramento, we heard from one Affiliate, Clinica Monseñor Oscar Romero based in Los Angeles, on the role it is playing, including leveraging its promotoras network to go out into the community, increase awareness, and enroll eligible children. This past weekend, three NCLR Affiliates—San Ysidro Health Center (San Diego County), Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo (Inland Empire), and AltaMed Health Services Corporation (Los Angeles and Orange counties)—were stops along Senator Lara’s statewide Health4AllKids outreach and enrollment tour.

While we celebrate this historic moment, we know work remains to be done to ensure that every Californian, including the parents of these newly eligible children, has the opportunity for quality, affordable, and accessible health care. Health coverage is an important tool to integrating aspiring Americans into society and we look forward to working for Health4All in the state.

To learn more, visit the Health4AllKids website.

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