California is Rapidly Extending Public Health Care to Undocumented Immigrants

By Kenrya Rankin Sep 25, 2015

Earlier this week, Contra Costa County—which is just east of San Francisco—voted to provide public primary health care services to adult undocumented immigrants. It is the 47th county to do so, leaving just 11 without policies that offer robust non-emergency care. Contra Costa Cares, approved as a one-year pilot program that will initially serve up to 3,000 people, will provide residents with a “medical home” at a community health center, complete with benefits that include regular checkups, immunizations, mental health services and a nurse advice line.

“It will mean better health care access for all, improved public health, lower cost to our health care system, and it’s just the right thing to do for people, especially undocumented adults who are not covered under the Affordable Care Act,” county supervisor John Gioia told KQED

Undocumented adults are not permitted to apply for federally-subsidized insurance or purchase their own coverage via the state health exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act. That means they are often left with emergency care as their only option for affordable care. Their citizen children are eligible for coverage under their Affordable Care Act, but kids who share their parents’ undocumented status are not. 

But several Californian counties are already covering all children. In June, Governor Jerry Brown and the state legislature arrived at a deal that will begin funding public coverage for low-income undocumented children starting next spring. Advocacy group Health Access estimates that there are still 1 million uninsured undocumented immigrants in California.

(H/t NPR)