Elevating the urgency of health care access for all communities, Senators Ricardo Lara and Maria Elena Durazo, and Assemblymembers Dr. Joaquin Arambula, Rob Bonta, and David Chiu introduced two #Health4All bills on the first official day of the new 2019 legislative session. The two bills, SB 29 and AB 4, are a top priority for immigrant rights and health care advocates and would provide full-scope Medi-Cal to low-income undocumented adults by removing immigration status as an eligibility exclusion.
While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has significantly reduced California’s uninsured rate to less than 7%, 1.4 million Californians are locked out of health coverage because of their immigration status. Undocumented Californians are the largest, single group of uninsured individuals in the state.
Currently, a significant number of Californians are working and raising families without access to preventative care, prescription drugs or doctor visits because of their immigration status. The lack of care exacerbates a physical and mental health crisis created by a number of federal policies that continue to attack immigrant families.
Champions of the Health4All efforts are prepared to renew a bold fight for health equity and inclusion. Following the success of #Health4AllKids, which since 2016 has ensured coverage of 250,000 children in Medi-Cal, SB 29 and AB 4 are the next logical steps to close a huge remaining gap in our health care system. Providing #Health4All families and communities is necessary to moving California closer to achieving the goal of health insurance coverage for all Californians.
Below are comments from the authors of the legislation as well as members of the #Health4All coalition supporting the bills:
“We need healthy families for a healthy California economy. Health4All will cut the uninsured rate in California to a historic low while giving many Californians what they have never had: quality primary care with regular well visits and preventive care. That will be life-changing for people who are contributing to our economy without the security of healthcare.” – Senator Ricardo Lara, who won the passage of #Health4All children in 2015, and author of SB 29
“For more than 30 years, I have dedicated myself to winning affordable health care for tens of thousands of working families. Anyone who knows me knows how strongly I feel about this…and those who don’t, will soon understand.” – Senator María Elena Durazo, joint author on SB 29
“With the start of a new legislative session, I am determined that we make health care accessible to all people who live in California, regardless of immigration status. I believe health care is a human right, and that it is unfair to deny services that could prevent more serious and debilitating health problems. Lack of access to health care impacts not just the individual, but the families and children who depend on them. We must do better to improve the quality of life for all.” – Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula, an emergency room physician until his election in 2016, and author of AB 4
“Health care is a right, not a privilege; for all, not the few. We must ensure that when undocumented children turn 19 their Medi-Cal coverage is not taken away. Removing immigrant exclusions from Medi-Cal is a critical and positive step towards achieving true access to affordable, high-quality care for all.” – Assemblymember Rob Bonta, joint author of AB 4
“Every person deserves access to quality health care regardless of immigration status. In California, we are taking steps to make sure all of our families are covered. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure these critical bills are signed into law.” – Assemblymember David Chiu, joint author of AB 4
“We applaud the leadership of Assemblymember Arambula and Senator Lara in once more raising the torch to fight for the health of all Californians, including our undocumented community members. We are committed to work towards a vision of genuine inclusion and health equity in our state, where no one is excluded from life-saving care, no matter where they were born.” – Cynthia Buiza, Executive Director, California Immigrant Policy Center
“Our health system is stronger when everyone is included, getting primary and preventive care and advancing public health. Yet we can’t get to the goal of truly universal coverage if we continue to use immigration status to exclude Californians from basic care and coverage. While California has seen historic declines in our uninsured rate, we now need to bold state action to continue our progress—and prevent backsliding by Trump Administration attacks on our health system. Expanding Medi-Cal to all who are income-eligible, regardless of immigration status, will not just benefit the individual Californians, but bolster the health and financial vitality of their families, their communities, and our whole state.” – Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition
“As a new Governor and California Legislature convenes, it’s important they listen to the struggles of the undocumented and uninsured and urgently act on Health4All. We need them to champion Health4All now. ASPIRE will not stop fighting until every one of our community members has access to quality health care services.” – Wei Lee, Program Coordinator for ASPIRE, a program of Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus
“As our federal administration continues to undercut and threaten the rights of immigrants, California must expand protections for all immigrants, including passing Health4All. Health access should be for all individuals and immigrants, including the undocumented, who call California home. In our state, there are over 416,000 undocumented Asians, many of whom lack access to critical health services. These are our neighbors, our friends, our co-workers – their health affects our health. Advancing Justice-CA will continue to fight for Health4All and ensure that all Californians can thrive and live healthy lives.” –Andrew Medina, California Policy Manager, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-CA
“Undocumented communities are under unprecedented attack by the Trump Administration. California has an opportunity to continue to lead the way and ensure that immigrants are welcome here. We urge the Legislature and Governor-Elect Newsom to act swiftly to ensure that all Californians have access to health care, including our undocumented friends and family members.” – Sarah De Guia, Executive Director, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network
“We appreciate Senator Ricardo Lara and Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula for making California taking the lead by assuring all Californians, like our immigrant communities have access to health care!” – Maribel Nunez, Executive Director, California Partnership
“With Latinx and immigrant communities facing daily threats with direct impacts on their physical and mental health, it is time that the State invest in health care access for all Californians, regardless of immigration status. When all immigrants are healthy, California thrives.” – Dr. Jeffrey Reynoso, Executive Director, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California
“Our communities are stronger when everyone has access to timely, affordable, quality healthcare.” – Gabrielle Lessard, Senior Policy Attorney, National Immigration Law Center
“The unfair exclusion of immigrant adults from health coverage means families worry constantly that going to the doctor means going broke. As the Trump Administration escalates its unconscionable attacks on immigrant families, California can and must offer a bold, alternative vision of justice and inclusion, starting with #Health4All. SEIU California members believe access to health care is a human right, and we are proud to support legislation that opens the door to quality Medi-Cal care regardless of immigration status.” – Riko Mendez, Chief Elected Officer, SEIU Local 521 and a board member of SEIU California
“Undocumented immigrants are our family members, neighbors, friends, and colleagues. It’s only right that they have equal access to health coverage.” – Linda Nguy, Policy Advocate, Western Center on Law & Poverty