California extends health coverage to undocumented immigrants
© WikiMedia (Steven Pavlov)

California extends health coverage to undocumented immigrants

California Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday signed SB 104, which will extend health coverage to some undocumented immigrants.

Under the new bill, Medi-Cal will provide coverage to some young adults aged 18-25 who are not US citizens. California previously expanded the scope of Medi-Cal to undocumented minors in 2016.

Existing law requires that individuals under 19 years of age enrolled in restricted-scope Medi-Cal at the time the Director of Health Care Services makes a determination that systems have been programmed for implementation of these provisions be enrolled in the full scope of Medi-Cal benefits, if otherwise eligible. Existing law requires the department to maximize federal financial participation in implementing the provisions.

This bill would extend eligibility for full-scope Medi-Cal benefits to individuals 19 to 25 years of age, inclusive, and who are otherwise eligible for those benefits but for their immigration status. This bill would additionally require the department to claim federal financial participation to the extent that the department determines it is available, and to the extent that federal financial participation is not available, would require the department to use state funds. Because counties are required to make eligibility determinations and this bill would expand Medicaid eligibility, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

The bill will cover around 138,000 individuals according to State of California budget estimates.

Building upon the children’s Medi-Cal expansion under Chapter 18, Statutes of 2015 (SB 75), the Budget includes $260 million ($196.5 million General Fund) to expand full-scope Medi-Cal coverage to eligible young adults aged 19 through 25 regardles of immigration status, starting no sooner than July 1, 2019. About 75 percent of these adults are currently in the Medi-Cal system, and are either receiving restricted-scope benefits or services under SB 75. This expansion will provide full-scope coverage to approximately 138,000 undocumented adults in the first year.

Individuals earning a salary above 138 percent of the federal poverty level will not qualify for Medi-Cal coverage under the new legislation.