Brown approved Senate Bill 4 on Friday
Bill makes undocumented children eligible for coverage
Law estimated to benefit 170,000 children in the state
Her 10-year-old son, born outside the U.S., will now be able to access affordable medical services with the same ease as his U.S.-born siblings.
The signing of Senate Bill 4 allocates $40 million in this year’s budget to provide state-subsidized Medi-Cal coverage to children who were brought to the country illegally.
An estimated 170,000 undocumented children will be eligible for coverage under Medi-Cal beginning in May 2016.
“This is a tremendous victory that will send a message across the country that says compassion should always trump bigotry when we’re talking about our immigrant population,” said Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, who led the health care expansion.
Earlier this year, Brown’s signature on SB 4, also known as the “Health For All Kids” bill, was not guaranteed, as he had expressed skepticism about the bill’s initial cost estimated at $740 million a year.
Locally, nonprofits such as the Merced Organizing Project took the lead in setting up community forums and gathering support for the bill.
“We are very excited that the governor is doing the right thing and moving California in the right direction,” said Crissy Gallardo, a community organizer with MOP.
“This means that thousands of children in the state will now have access to the basic human right of health care coverage,” she said.
Flores’ son is one of the beneficiaries. She explained that, at the moment, her son only qualifies for emergency Medi-Cal, but that’s not always good enough. Unlike her U.S.-born children, Flores’ 10-year-old does not have a primary care doctor. When he becomes sick, home remedies are the go-to solution.
“As he gets older, he starts to understand and questions a lot of it,” Flores said. “He starts to feel different, and that’s not good for his self-esteem.”
“This is great news for us,” she said. “It’s such a big relief.”