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California expands full Medi-Cal benefits to all children, regardless of immigration status



May 20, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: Access to Care Public Health 

On Monday, May 16, full-scope Medi-Cal benefits became available to all California children under age 19 regardless of immigration status, as long as they meet all other eligibility requirements. Previously, California offered limited scope Medi-Cal to undocumented minors, but under this new law those eligible for the expansion will now receive the full suite of Medi-Cal benefits, including preventive care, immunizations, mental health care, vision care and other covered services.


The California Medical Association (CMA) supported this coverage expansion, as it is in line with CMA policy (HOD 208-13) that supports “access to affordable, quality health care for all persons, whether documented or undocumented."


Enacted in the budget last June by Gov. Jerry Brown, this new law (also known as Health4All Kids) is a major step toward insuring those who remain uninsured following the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Because the ACA prevents federal funds from being used to cover the undocumented, the Health4All Kids initiative will be funded entirely by state dollars.


The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) estimates that there are currently more than 114,900 undocumented children in the restricted Medi-Cal program, with an additional 55,000 undocumented children who are currently eligible but not enrolled.


Children and teens who are currently enrolled in restricted scope Medi-Cal for emergency or pregnancy-related services will be enrolled automatically in full-scope Medi-Cal. Newly eligible children will be enrolled in Medi-Cal managed care plans. The families of children eligible for the expansion will be responsible for copayments and premium contributions to the same extent as other beneficiaries.


DHCS is working collaboratively with the County Welfare Directors Association of California, county human services agencies, Covered California, advocates and other stakeholders to identify impacted children and get them enrolled in the program.


The governor’s May Revision includes $188.2 million to provide Medi-Cal coverage to California’s undocumented children.


Click here for more information about the program.

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