Today, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 approving a budget for the coming fiscal year which includes a staff recommendation to provide indigent care services to undocumented residents. It’s a historic day for Sacramento: the Sacramento Board of Supervisors has made a important start in addressing undocumented Sacramentans’ need for quality, comprehensive health care.
The proposal approved by the Board today came out of a workshop held by the Board last March on healthcare services for undocumented immigrants. During the course of that hearing, Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services staff presented potential options for covering undocumented immigrants along with cost estimates for each option. Health Access joined several dozen advocate organizations and a handful of elected officials, including Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, State Senator Richard Pan, and Assemblymember Kevin McCarty in support of providing healthcare services to undocumented immigrants.
The proposal approved by the Board today provides for primary care, preventative care, some specialty care and limited pharmacy benefits to approximately 3,000 undocumented immigrants in Sacramento County. Not unlike other county safety-net programs in the state, eligibility is restricted to adults between the age of 19-64 and income levels up to 138% FPL. The total cost of the program is estimated to be $6.7 million, which includes county and partner resources, with total new General Fund cost estimated at $1.9 million. While there are some limitations to the proposal that was approved today, including limitations around geographic points of access and services, today’s decision is a step in the right direction and provides momentum for other counties to reorient their safety-net programs to better serve the remaining uninsured. We expect other counties to follow suit soon, to be more inclusive and to improve their safety-nets. Our health system works best when everyone is included.
Pictured above: Sawait Hezchias-Seyoum, Health Policy Advocate with Health Access, testifying before the Sacramento Board of Supervisors at the June 16, 2015 hearing.