Co-authored by Sonya Schwartz, Georgetown CCF
The Supreme Court’s 4-4 vote in United States v. Texas leaves immigrant families and those who care about their future deeply saddened but ready to fight again for inclusion and fairness. With this split decision, our country is still prevented from moving forward with the Obama Administration’s 2014 actions to expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to more DREAMers, and implement the new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Legal Permanent Residents (DAPA) program for the many parents that have long called this country home. Moreover, it is a major missed opportunity to improve the lives of families in communities across the country. From coast to coast, our family, friends, and neighbors will have to continue to wait for immigration relief, and, with it, the potential gains in health and well-being that would follow.
Technically, this split decision means that the Fifth Circuit’s decision upholding the preliminary injunction against the DAPA and expanded DACA initiative still stands. United States v. Texas will be sent back to the lower courts for consideration. There are still additional legal avenues potentially available to move forward action for our families. It is important to note that this case has no impact on the DACA program launched in 2012, which is still in effect and open for applications and renewals.
Children’s advocates nationally know the promise that immigration relief has in improving the health of children. Nationally, it is estimated that more than 3.7 million additional undocumented immigrants would have qualified for expanded DACA and DAPA. What’s more, 4.3 million children under age 18 live in a household with at least one potentially DAPA-eligible adult. Providing immigrant parents with relief from deportation holds huge potential for improving children’s health. By allowing more parents and family members to come out of the shadows, children in immigrant families, including mixed-status families—or those where some family members are legally present and others are undocumented—would be willing to enroll in public coverage options like Medicaid or CHIP. Though many of these children were already eligible for these coverage options, fears of deportation and immigration enforcement continue to prevent many parents from getting their children covered, particularly in this climate of continuing immigration enforcement actions.
In preventing implementation of expanded DACA and DAPA, the decision also stunted the potential for further health coverage gains, and these gains would have been greatest in California. California provides state-funded, full-scope Medi-Cal benefits to anyone with an eligibility determination known as Permanently Residing in the US Under Color of Law (PRUCOL), including DACA and would-be DAPA recipients. In California, approximately 1.5 million children live in families where a parent would have been eligible for DAPA, of whom 223,000 are eligible for Medi-Cal but uninsured. Already, an estimated 11,000 Californians who qualified for the original 2012 DACA program have enrolled in Medi-Cal (Note again that the 2012 DACA program is still in effect and open for applications and renewals). In total, as many as 1.1 million Californians could have gained coverage had there been access to the expanded DACA and DAPA programs. Without access to comprehensive health insurance for both parents and children alike, many of these children will remain uninsured as their families continue to live in the shadows.
Without this step forward in immigration reform, our national immigration policies continue to harm the healthy development of immigrant and citizen children alike. A growing body of evidence in recent years has shown that children in mixed-status families face unique health issues not faced by children in other families. For these children, adverse childhood experiences such as the constant threat of a parent or loved one being deported can have immense impacts on their development, including increased occurrences of depression and anxiety. As a result, there is a real and tangible impact on brain development, performance in school, and long-term life outcomes. Providing immigrant family members a path to legal status will have a major impact on many kids in immigrant communities.
In the absence of national action on immigration, states are moving forward to better serve their residents. In California, the state has expanded Medi-Cal coverage to undocumented immigrant children, with the potential to open doors to the security coverage provides to 185,000 kids in the state. Efforts are continuing to identify ways to secure health coverage for every member of the family. Additionally, those who are granted deferred action under the original DACA program will continue to benefit from state-funded Medi-Cal for PRUCOL. While we applaud the efforts of the handful of states around the country that have taken similar actions, the overwhelming majority of undocumented children and families in the nation will remain locked out of critical health coverage.
Along with the disappointment in today’s decision comes a renewed commitment to the fight for comprehensive immigration reform. Georgetown CCF and The Children’s Partnership, along with other partner organizations, continue to work alongside families to make sure everyone in this country, no matter where they were born, feel welcomed and supported as members of our shared community. Providing undocumented immigrant families in this country a path to citizenship is about even more than work authorizations or green cards. It is about creating peace of mind, building healthier communities, and investing in the future—for the sake of all our children and families.
Health coverage offers families more than the chance to be physically healthy. It also helps to provide financial security. With health insurance comes a sense that you are protected in the case of an unexpected illness or a serious accident. It brings the security of knowing that if something goes wrong with your health or that of your loved ones, you have insurance to help pay the bill.
Today, health insurance is more affordable for millions of Californians. In 2015, 90 percent of Californians received financial assistance in paying for premiums for coverage through Covered California; one in three Californians is enrolled in free or low-cost Medi-Cal. For many, such opportunities have made a world of difference. For other families, having insurance is not enough to remove significant cost barriers, including unaffordable co-payments and deductibles, which prevent them from getting the health care needed to keep their families healthy.
While the proportion of uninsured Californians reporting cost as the reason for lacking coverage fell from 53 percent to 43 percent in 2014, lack of affordability remains the most common reason cited for going without insurance in California. Among people with health insurance, one in five working-age Americans reported having problems paying medical bills in the past year. As a result of these high medical costs, families often end up facing serious financial challenges and may have to face unexpected changes in employment and lifestyle. When insured individuals received medical bills, three-quarters said that the amount they had to pay for their insurance co-payments, deductibles, or coinsurance was more than they could afford. As ACA implementation moves forward, ensuring coverage is affordable for children and their families remains critical to supporting families and creating true peace of mind.
As we live each day, no one ever plans to get sick or hurt, but, inevitably, most people will need medical care at some point in their lives. Health insurance helps cover the cost of the care we need and offers many other important benefits to help us stay healthy. Knowing we are protected is critical to both our physical health and mental health, and it provides that true peace of mind.
Read more about ways coverage can be more affordable in our new report, “The Affordable Care Act and Children’s Coverage in California: Our Progress and Our Future.”
Without a doubt, California has been a leader in health care reform for children and families in more ways than one. When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law six years ago, we were the first state in the nation to enact legislation creating a health insurance marketplace—Covered California—offering affordable private insurance options to Californians. Early on, California expanded its Medicaid program to include more low-income adults. To make sure as many children received dental coverage as possible, California embedded dental benefits into the medical benefits package received under Qualified Health Plans in Covered California.
Beyond the reforms included in the ACA, a new group of immigrant children and youth qualified for Medi-Cal coverage in California with the creation of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Most recently, the State continued to expand its coverage opportunities for those left out of the ACA, namely our immigrant children. As of May 2016, full Medi-Cal benefits are available to all low-income children, regardless of immigration status. A movement that began at the community level has extended statewide, and now all kids have access to coverage across California, the state with the largest immigrant population in the nation.
As more children than ever before have access to health coverage they need and deserve, we must ensure the benefits match their child-specific needs to ensure their healthy development. Quality coverage for kids means a benefits package including child-centered services, such as childhood developmental screenings, hearing aids, and pediatric specialty care. Children with health coverage have better access to needed care, lead healthier lives, and perform better in school.
While coverage eligibility in our country and California is the best it has been in our history, there are still some that remain unable to access affordable insurance. Moderate-income families may be locked out of access to financial assistance for marketplace coverage. Despite the gains made for children, there are still 1.5 million adults in California who remain ineligible for full-scope coverage through Medi-Cal or Covered California due to their immigration status. Fortunately, the Governor recently signed legislation requiring California to seek federal approval to also offer Covered California coverage options to undocumented immigrant Californians, but they would remain ineligible for federal subsidies for their health coverage.
Building on the incredible progress of the ACA will require further federal and state action. At the federal level, some important coverage refinements include:
- Fixing the “Family Glitch,” which refers to how some moderate-income families may be locked out of access to financial assistance for marketplace health plan coverage due to employer coverage that is available yet unaffordable. Federal clarification of the “affordability test” of employer coverage could allow dependents to qualify for marketplace coverage subsidies if the employer’s family coverage is unaffordable.
- Defining the required “pediatric services” category of Essential Health Benefits. ACA requires all Qualified Health Plans to offer a package of Essential Health Benefits, including pediatric services. However, this unique package of benefits has not yet been defined, and states are instead instructed to choose benchmark plans based primarily on employer-based plan packages, which are geared toward adults rather than children. Medicaid’s Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit is specifically designed to provide childhood developmental assessments and specific pediatric care, and it serves as a worthy model.
California can continue to be a leader in health care reform for children and their families by taking action on the following:
- Expand Medi-Cal to low-income undocumented immigrant adults and allow undocumented immigrants to purchase coverage through Covered California. When parents are eligible for coverage, the whole family is more likely to enroll and more children can get the health care they need. With the enactment of SB 10, California has the opportunity to allow more Californians the opportunity to purchase health plans through California’s health insurance marketplace.
- Explore affordable coverage options for California families excluded from Covered California subsidies due to the “affordability test.” In the interim, before a federal “family glitch” fix, California could identify coverage options these families can afford. Access to health insurance is important for every Californian and to ensure a healthy future for our children.
- Better define and provide the “Pediatric Services” Essential Health Benefit to youth up to age 21. In lieu of a federal definition of the “pediatric services” Essential Health Benefit, the State should pursue options for offering full child benefits (such as EPSDT) through Covered California for children as a means of providing a sufficient pediatric services benefit package. Also, despite federal regulations stating that states have the flexibility to extend pediatric services coverage beyond the age of 19 and receive federal financial assistance for doing so, California policymakers have yet to exercise this option. Extending to 21 would help more youth receive critical, comprehensive services, including oral and vision care, as they transition into adulthood.
Read more in our new report, “The Affordable Care Act and Children’s Coverage in California: Our Progress and Our Future.”
Over the past six years, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and subsequent efforts to build on its impact have made incredible improvements in the lives of tens of millions of Americans. As a result, health insurance is fairer, more affordable, and more accessible across the country. In California, one of the greatest success stories for health reform, the law has opened doors to coverage for over six million consumers. California was the first state in the nation to enact legislation creating a health insurance marketplace, Covered California, and an early adopter of the Medicaid expansion to ensure more low-income Californians enrolled in coverage. In taking a lead on implementation, California has put the needs of consumers first and provided greater security for children and families.
Providing quality health insurance and care is an investment in the future of our children and lays the groundwork for children to succeed in school and life. Before the passage of the ACA, increases in public coverage through both Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) placed a national focus on children’s coverage. As a result, the national rate of uninsured children fell more than 65 percent from 14.9 percent to 4.8 percent between 1997 and 2015. With this strong foundation, the ACA created new coverage opportunities for the majority of the remaining uninsured—primarily adults.
Today, over 5.6 million children, more than half of California’s children, are enrolled in Medi-Cal. Medi-Cal provides affordable health care to children who need it most—especially millions of children of color who have historically faced disproportionately poorer health outcomes. A strong future for health care in America will build on the progress of the ACA, but it also requires us to defend and enhance Medicaid and CHIP at the federal and state levels, given their historic success in providing child-specific health benefits to the nation’s most vulnerable children.
Our new report, “The Affordable Care Act and Children’s Coverage in California: Our Progress and Our Future,” offers a look into the incredible progress California has made in health care reform and the future actions we must take to continue to support a healthy future for all California children, including furthering children’s coverage successes through the strengthening of Medicaid and CHIP. In conjunction with the report, our California and federal action agendas present our recommendations for advancing children’s coverage.
At The Children’s Partnership, we have proudly joined national and statewide partners to advocate critical health care reforms impacting millions of children and families, before and as part of the ACA. As we reflect on these past six years and celebrate the incredible accomplishments to advance the health of American families, we will continue to serve as a voice for children and work to improve a system of coverage and care that serves our children and their specific needs. We look forward to ongoing work with our partners to make this a reality.
Read the report and action agendas at:www.childrenspartnership.org/childrenandtheaca.
Tomorrow, The Children’s Partnership will present at the first ever White House Foster Care and Technology Hackathon—an event organized by the Pritzker Family Foundation, the White House, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and Think of US, a nonprofit that promotes technology innovations to better support foster youth. The two-day event during National Foster Care Month brings together programmers and tech experts alongside individuals from the child welfare, legal, and nonprofit sectors to explore how technology innovation can improve outcomes for families and youth who experience foster care.
Improvements to our foster care system through the use of technology will be the focus of panel discussions and speakers. Additionally, those connected with the child welfare system will have the opportunity to team up with technology experts to “hack” real world challenges that foster care youth, families, and child welfare workers face.
TCP is proud to join this important event and bring our 10 years of experience working on health information technology solutions for foster care to the discussion. Mounting evidence shows that on a number of outcome measures—including college graduation, employment, housing stability, dependence on public assistance, and incarceration—former foster youth often struggle well into adulthood. Just half of the 400,000 children in the US foster care system will complete high school by age 18. This trajectory needs to change.
In our latest issue brief, titled “Engaging Foster Youth and Foster Parents in Electronic Records Initiatives: Lessons Learned,” we highlight important projects across the country that will help inform the collective brainstorm around solutions at the White House Hackathon event. As our new brief notes, electronic records initiatives can help knit together a care team, make sure that care decisions are informed by critical data, and offer youth a voice in their own care by equipping them with their own life records.
The White House event, a convening of some of the brightest minds in the field, will begin to address these issues on the national stage by creatively considering new solutions to the obstacles that prevent children and youth in foster care from achieving their full potential. We are honored to be a part of that conversation.
Last week, California demonstrated how it continues to raise the bar for states’ efforts to support new Americans. On May 16, all income-eligible children, regardless of immigration status, were given the opportunity to enroll in full-scope Medi-Cal. In doing so, hundreds of thousands of children were provided new access to important health care services that they need to be healthy. With this coverage, parents have the peace of mind that their children are protected. Families know they can take their children to the doctor, dentist, or any other health care provider they may need to help ensure their well-being. There is hope that all children, no matter where they were born, can lead the healthiest lives possible and reach their full potential.
We at TCP are proud to have been a part of a diverse coalition of advocacy groups, community organizations, foundations, policymakers, providers, and families that banded together and never lost sight of the goal of coverage for all children. Our work together continues as we shift to spreading the word about Health4All Kids and doing all we can to make sure those who are eligible know how and where to enroll and what services are available to assist them. Here are some ways that’s already happening:
Last week, we celebrated the launch of Health4All Kids with the Health4All coalition at a press conference headlined by legislators, including Speaker Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, Senator Ricardo Lara, Senator Ed Hernandez, Assemblymember Jim Wood, and Assemblymember Tony Thurmond. Together, we celebrated the accomplishment of extending coverage to all children and renewed our commitment to making sure all members of every family can enroll by advocating the passage of SB 10 and SB 1418.Watch the speech and see photos here.
To commemorate the day, our leading ALL IN For Health partner, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson, sent a letter to all 2,000county and district superintendents in the state to encourage schools across California to spread the word about the new opportunity. Schools are trusted messengers for many communities and play a critical role in helping reach families with news about the Medi-Cal expansion. Schools can make calls to families using a script or send home a flyer, available in the ALL IN For Health toolkit.
The California Endowment partnered with Telemundo 52 for a special segment to educate Spanish-speaking communities about what the Medi-Cal expansion means for immigrant families. We were proud to be a part of the segment and invite you to share it with families you think would be interested in learning more. Watch the clip.
If you or someone you know needs more information about the Medi-Cal expansion, we encourage you to visit the Health4All Kids website (http://health4allkids.org/). The website serves as a central resource for information for families and community organizations looking to learn more about the new benefits. The site will continue to serve as a resource with recordings of informational webinars and a toolkit, as well as new tools and updates as they become available.
While we celebrate this important victory, we know our work is not over. In the next year, we will be partnering with community groups across the state to make sure implementation runs smoothly and all families know how to enroll. Once enrolled, it is our collective responsibility to make sure families can navigate the health care system that is newly available to their children. And while we make sure kids can get and use their new health care, we will continue to work to ensure that every Californian, including the parents of these newly eligible children, has access to coverage.
I am so proud to be in a state that takes care of all its children and is leading the way on welcoming our immigrant communities. Let’s continue on this path and make sure the opportunity for quality, affordable coverage is realized for all of our families.
Next month, California will take a critical step toward securing the health of the state’s children. On May 16, 2016, full-scope Medi-Cal will officially expand to all low-income children, regardless of immigration status. The countdown to coverage for undocumented children across California has begun!
Last year, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the state budget, which included new funding for Medi-Cal (SB 75), and expanded access to affordable, quality health care—including preventive care—for all lower-income children younger than 19 years old, regardless of immigration status. At the end of 2015, legislation was enacted (SB 4) to ensure that children already enrolled in restricted-scope Medi-Cal coverage would be transitioned to full-scope Medi-Cal without having to fill out an additional application. Under the expansion, at least 170,000 undocumented immigrant children will have the security health insurance provides.
Now, it’s time to make this expansion a reality and make sure families know about this opportunity. Here are a few resources and upcoming events that we hope you will share with your community.
1. Health4All Kids Website
A group of children, immigrant, and health advocates launched www.health4allkids.org, a brand new website that provides resources for families impacted by the upcoming Medi-Cal expansion to all low-income children, regardless of immigration status.Please share with your community and be sure to check back regularly for updates! An expanded toolkit for organizations will be coming soon.
2. Telemundo Health4All Kids Segment
Tune in to Telemundo to learn about the Medi-Cal expansion for undocumented children. Hosted by Edgardo Gazcón, this special segment will cover the basics of the Medi-Cal expansion and how to enroll. The program is sponsored by The California Endowment and will include interviews with The Children’s Partnership, National Immigration Law Center, and Eisner Pediatric & Family Medical Center. Check out the listings below to see when these shows are airing near you. If you miss one of the segments, you will be able to watch it after the airdate on the Telemundo Asegúrate site.
Acceso Total Special
- Telemundo 52 Los Angeles, Thursday, April 7, 10:00 a.m. and Thursday, April 21, 10:00 a.m.
- Telemundo 33 San Diego, Saturday, April 9, 5:30 p.m.
- Telemundo 51 Fresno, Saturday, April 9, 11:30 a.m.
Want to learn more? Join the Linea de Ayuda. Telemundo 52 viewers will be able to learn more about the Medi-Cal expansion for undocumented children. Edgardo Gazcón will share more on eligibility and urge viewers to call the California Health Plus Local Clinic Finder hotline (855-899-7587) for more information.
o Telemundo 52 Los Angeles, Thursday, April 14, 4:00 to 8:00 p.m.
3) Health4All Kids Webinar
On Wednesday, April 20, policy experts and fellow community organizations will host a webinar to help California community-based organizations, clinics, enrollment entities, and interested local leaders prepare for this historic expansion of Medi-Cal to undocumented children in California! This webinar will discuss the upcoming changes to children’s health coverage, delve into implementation challenges, and share strategies for community groups to better reach eligible families and their children so they are enrolled in full-scope Medi-Cal as soon as possible. California policy, legal, and health enrollment experts will be on hand to answer questions and describe the information and resources available in the soon-to-be-launched Health4All Kids online toolkit on www.health4allkids.org.
Be sure to stay tuned for more activities and resources leading up to the full-scope Medi-Cal expansion for children. As always, please reach out if you are interested in partnering with us on activities to help make sure all children can get affordable, quality coverage and care. Thank you for your partnership!
Today in California and across the country, millions more Americans have access to quality, affordable health coverage. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, and the tremendous efforts by states, advocates, faith-based organizations, schools, businesses, and communities, including our collaboration with schools through the ALL IN For Health Campaign, more families and children than ever are enrolled in coverage. With coverage, families and children can see a doctor, fill a prescription, and have the peace of mind that health insurance coverage provides—but only if they understand what having an insurance card can mean for them.
Too many people, particularly the newly insured, find health insurance confusing, frustrating, and often overwhelming. For children, their ability to get the care they need depends on their parents’ ability to understand and navigate the coverage system on their behalf. When at least 1 in 3 parents of young children have limited health literacy skills, we know a family’s understanding of health insurance and the health care system will impact a child’s ability to get the care they need.
Part of this understanding is knowing the benefits made available through the ACA and Medi-Cal. A key benefit, for example, is access to preventive services, such as well-child visits, immunizations, and developmental screenings for children, with no additional out-of-pocket costs. Before the ACA, many families, especially minority and low-income families, faced cost barriers that discouraged them from going to the doctor or dentist for a checkup. Instead of going to a primary care doctor to get chronic asthma under control or going to a dental care provider for a cleaning, children ended up in the emergency room with a preventable asthma attack or tooth abscess. Access to regular, preventive health care is a key element to helping all Americans become healthy and stay healthy. Preventive care is particularly critical to children’s development, helping them thrive in school and grow up to become healthy adults. As coverage becomes more widely available, it is time to help families navigate an unfamiliar health care system and ensure that families are using that coverage to get care before health problems arise.
At The Children’s Partnership, we are excited to add this new focus to our ALL IN For Health Campaign and build on our powerful partnership with California schools to educate families about the importance of understanding coverage, including seeking preventive health care. We have developed a new flyer that reinforces the concept of preventive health and gives families four easy steps they can take today to get their families the care they need to stay healthy. To help families keep track of their children’s preventive health visits and other medical information, we’ve also developed a handy card to store key information.
Educating families about how to use their insurance and the importance of preventive services is critical to the well-being of children and their ability to succeed in school. We are excited to continue our work with schools to better the health of California’s students and families and do our part to make sure that the vision of the ACA—a healthier America—becomes a reality.
During February, we commemorate Children’s Dental Health Month and, in doing so, reflect on the state of oral health for kids in California and what needs to be done to improve it. Tooth decay is the number one childhood chronic disease—two to three times more common than childhood obesity or asthma. Yet it is preventable. Here is some work The Children’s Partnership is doing to promote solutions to the problem.
- Helping families understand their dental benefits and how to use them. Many families in California may not know that if their child is enrolled in health coverage through Medi-Cal or Covered California, he or she also has dental coverage. Schools, businesses, doctors, nurses, and communities all have a role to play in helping families understand how to get the dental care their children need. That’s why we created brand new flyers to help families navigate dental coverage for their children. It will be especially important to educate families whose children may not have had coverage in the past, such as low-income undocumented children who will be newly eligible for Medi-Cal later this year. We will be sharing these flyers through schools, clinics, and other partners. Please help us get them out to families, too!
- Bringing dental care to children where they are in the community. Underserved children, who suffer from poor oral health, face significant obstacles in obtaining dental services. Many low-income families have difficulty getting needed dental services because they lack affordable transportation, lose pay when they miss work, and face other socioeconomic barriers. Bringing care directly to them bypasses these barriers and, for many, may be the only option for getting care. The Virtual Dental Home (VDH) is an innovative and cost-effective system for providing dental care to California’s most vulnerable children in community settings. The VDH model uses technology to connect specially trained dental hygienists and assistants, located at community sites (such as schools and Head Start sites), with dentists in offices or clinics to facilitate comprehensive dental care. We are sponsoring legislation—AB 648 (Low)—which would provide a one-time start-up investment in training, equipment, technical assistance, and other support that providers need to begin implementing the VDH so that it can be brought to underserved communities across the state.
- Encouraging a sustainable system of care for children in Medi-Cal. Now that more kids than ever have health and dental coverage, we need to make sure they can use it. Approximately 5.6 million California children are enrolled in Medi-Cal, but fewer than half of these children are receiving necessary dental care. While progress has been made, Medi-Cal continues to fall short of meeting the dental care needs of the state’s most vulnerable children. We need a sustainable system that brings care to children in community settings, utilizes community health workers to educate and engage families and coordinate care, and provides enough dentists in the right places to address the restorative dental care needs of children. For example, the State should implement a program like the ABCD program in Washington State and a similar program in Alameda County that supports a whole team to address the oral health needs of young children.
- Shaping the State’s oral health plan. This year, TCP is helping to develop the State Department of Public Health’s statewide oral health plan, led by the newly appointed Dental Director, to ensure the plan makes meaningful recommendations for improving children’s oral health and action is taken to begin timely implementation. All of California’s kids deserve the dental care they need to not suffer in pain, do well in school, and avoid costly health problems later on in life.
Please join us in helping families understand their children’s dental coverage and how to get care by promoting these much-needed statewide systems. Contact Jenny Kattlove, Senior Director of Programs, with any questions at email@example.com.
For decades, community organizations, policymakers, and advocates have worked together to make sure every member of the family could experience the benefits and security that health coverage provides. Families have bravely made their voices heard to make sure their kids could lead healthy and happy lives and the state of California is listening. Last year, the first victory in the journey toward health for all was achieved—all children, regardless of immigration status, will soon get free or low-cost health coverage through Medi-Cal. If a child under the age of 19 meets income guidelines, he or she will qualify for Medi-Cal. As we celebrate this milestone, we must continue our work to educate families, build awareness, and make sure every family takes advantage of this important opportunity.
Although the expansion of benefits to all children is expected later this year, families can act now to make sure that their kids get the comprehensive health coverage they need as soon as possible! Families can begin enrolling their children in restricted Medi-Cal (also known as emergency Medi-Cal) TODAY. Then, once the expansion is in place, those children enrolled in restricted Medi-Cal will be automatically enrolled into full-scope Medi-Cal. Families can apply without fear and know that their immigration status information is kept private. To enroll, immigrant families should visit www.localclinic.netto identify a local clinic to apply at or visit their local county human services office.
The expansion of Medi-Cal will help thousands of California children, but many families have questions and concerns about applying. The ALL IN For Health Campaign—the TCP-led effort to equip the education community with tools to help families connect to health coverage and care—has created a new flyer for schools to distribute to families. The flyer includes the most important facts about the expansion of Medi-Cal to undocumented children and how to get enrolled today. With our school and early learning partners, we can reach many of California’s more than 9 million children, including this newly eligible population, encourage families to enroll in restricted Medi-Cal now, and connect them to enrollment assistance. We also plan to continue learning about how we can better reach families with this information. We want to do all we can to work with trusted community centers, such as churches, clinics, small businesses, and more to help get the word out that it’s safe to apply.
Getting more kids enrolled in health coverage is key to children getting the care they need to grow up healthy. When children have health coverage, they can get preventive care that catches potential health issues before they become a problem. It also enables families to build a relationship with a doctor, dental provider, or other health care provider so that they have someone to call on when health issues do come up. Finally, children with health coverage are much less likely to miss school and are better prepared to learn and succeed in the classroom!
We hope you will join us in making sure all families have this important information and take the next step to enroll their kids in coverage. And, together, we will work toward a statewide solution so that all Californians, both children and adults, have access to quality, affordable coverage. Help spread the word by sharing “The ABCs of Health Coverage for ALL Kids” with your community.