By: Will White
On May 16, UWBA Public Policy staff joined a diverse coalition of advocates from across California for the Health4All lobby day in Sacramento. Organized by the All Care Alliance, a diverse group of health and social justice advocates, this event was an opportunity to celebrate a recent success in expanding health coverage, while also urging our leaders to enact even broader coverage options for all California residents, regardless of immigration status.
Our coalition had reason to celebrate, given that May 16 was the official start date of full-scope Medi-Cal coverage for undocumented children. Prior to this, undocumented children in California qualified for limited scope Medi-Cal, which only covers emergency care and not the kind of primary and preventive services that children often need as they develop into adults. This recent success helped set the stage for an even bigger advocacy push to provide more health coverage options to undocumented adults.
Our primary focus for the day was to educate our elected officials on SB 10, a bill that would get us one step closer to providing coverage for all Californians. Authored by Senator Ricardo Lara, SB 10 would require the state Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to apply for a waiver from the federal government allowing undocumented residents to purchase insurance through Covered CA without receiving premium subsidies. Currently, undocumented residents are barred from purchasing insurance through the state’s health exchange.
SB 10 might not provide the kind of widespread coverage health advocates would like to see here in our state, but it represents a significant step forward in realizing our goal of health access for all. If the measure passes, California will be one of the largest states to allow all residents regardless of immigration status to participate in its health exchange. Not only is this good for the health of all California residents; it could potentially lower health costs as it would broaden the pool of participants.
While undocumented residents will likely need to have higher incomes to afford insurance through Covered CA without premium subsides, the fact that California is even considering this issue makes a powerful statement to the rest of the country and clearly demonstrates our state’s commitment to health care access for everyone. We’re all healthier when everyone is covered and SB 10 is another way we can continue to work toward that goal.
Since May 16 the bill has been voted out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, a key milestone in getting final approval. It will soon move to the Assembly floor for a vote before going to the Governor’s desk for approval. Despite our progress, our work is not over and we need your help to make sure this bill clears its last hurdle before going to the governor.
In its current form SB 10 requires a two thirds majority vote be approved. We need to make sure all of our Assemblymembers, both democrat and republican vote in favor of SB 10 to ensure we continue to close the coverage gap here in California.
To help us in this effort, please reach out to your members in the Assembly this week and next and urge them to vote “Aye” on SB 10. You can look up your assembly member here.