In April of last year, the UC Berkeley Labor Center and UCLA Center for Health Policy Research published a report It is estimated that 3.2 million Californians would remain without health insurance in 2022. Separate study by the Public Policy Institute of California found that almost half of that number were immigrants, and of them a significant number of them were undocumented. In fact, the Labor Center’s findings suggest that 1.27 million undocumented immigrants in California do not have health insurance.
Three million is a big number, but it’s far fewer than in the recent past — and it’s a number that’s likely to shrink significantly in the coming years if Gov. Newsom’s just-released budget for 2022-23 comes to fruition State expands MediCal coverage to undocumented adults of all ages.
Newsom’s proposal, which for years has been something of a holy grail for health care reformers and immigrant rights advocates in the state, is the latest in a long line of reforms California has adopted over the past decade since its political leaders proceeded confidently to fill as many gaps in their health screen as possible. The result has been that the proportion of the uninsured in the state has more than decreased 20 percent of its population, or 7 million people under the age of 65 a decade ago — putting it in competition with states like Texas for the highest percentage of its population without health insurance — to just over 8 percent today.
After passing the Affordable Care Act, the state created its Overcast California insurance exchange, and then pumped millions of dollars into public relations campaigns to let low-income and minority communities know that health care is now affordable and accessible to millions of previously uninsured individuals and families. 2016 the state took the tab Extending MediCal to undocumented children under the age of 18 – a reform the FBI would not pay for. 2019 legislature raised the age limit Include undocumented residents under the age of 26. The reform came into effect in 2020, just before the pandemic took root. Last summer, Newsom signed legislation making low-income Californians age 50 and older eligible for MediCal; overnight about 235,000 undocumented residents in this age group qualified for healthcare.
Now that California is in the luxurious position of having one budget surplus of many tens of billions of dollars is Newsom suggest Expand MediCal to low-income undocumented immigrants from 2024 Everyone age groups, as well as hundreds of thousands of other low-income residents under the age of 65 across the state. True, it’s not quite the single-payer universal health care system advocated by Rep. Ash Kalra’s AB 1,400, a massive $400 billion proposal currently under discussion in Assembly committees; but it is a big step towards universal health coverage. And given the sticker shock associated with converting a fragmented private healthcare system to a payer system, Newsom’s plan is one of many ambitious proposals included in his $286 billion budget, it is almost certainly more likely to survive struggles in the legislature and garner more public support in the coming year than a single payer proposal. If it survives and he wins re-election, he then has four years to seal the deal and effectively move the state to universal coverage, albeit more of a patchwork quilt than a single-payer system.