By Amanda Flores
Ed. Note: Beginning in May, California will become the fifth and largest state to provide healthcare to undocumented children from low-income families through the state healthcare system, Medi-Cal. Under SB4, known as #Health4All Kids, the state will set aside $40 million for the program in the first year, and an estimated $132 million annually once the program is fully implemented. An estimated 170,000 undocumented kids, many of them residing in Riverside County, will become eligible for health care coverage under Medi-Cal once Health4All Kids takes effect. Coachella Unincorporated interviewed Luz Moreno, community engagement program manager for the non-profit Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo, which is working to help families get enrolled, about what the new law means for the Eastern Coachella Valley.
Why is Health4All Kids important for families in the Eastern Coachella Valley?
Health is a human right which we all deserve to have. Health coverage provides preventive care and peace of mind. But because of financial barriers, many families choose not to seek healthcare for their children when needed. Children may be more vulnerable to disease, asthma, colds, and they need to have their yearly checkups and vaccinations. [Health 4 All Kids] will provide families in the Eastern Coachella Valley with peace of mind, and encourage preventive health care methods. It will have a positive impact for our families.
How are clinics in the Eastern Coachella Valley helping families apply for Health4All Kids?
[Our clinics] have Certified Enrollment Counselors located at each clinic daily that assist with the enrollment process. Through our outreach department we go door to door sharing information on enrollment and clinic services. We are available to do presentations and enrollment activities when requested, and we also participate in community fairs to spread the word.
What are some of the challenges families in the ECV face in getting enrolled?
Family members tell us there is a lack of information about where and how they can enroll for coverage. This may be because they don’t have access to computers … or simply lack transportation. Many think they do not qualify for any insurance coverage because their wages are too low, so they don’t apply. Many times they choose to pay the fine and pay cash for services or go to [Mexicali for treatment]. There are also many fears around applying for Medi-Cal. People still worry their property will be taken from them, so they don’t apply. (California law stipulates the state can take ownership of assets, including the family home, of recently deceased Medi-Cal beneficiaries.)
Families who enroll by February will ensure their kids transition to Medi-Cal without a gap in coverage once Health4All Kids takes effect. How can we encourage more families to act?
We need strategic outreach efforts, radio spots, T.V. commercials and posters. We also need to educate the community on the new Medi-Cal laws and programs. The community also needs to get informed and seek help in applying. Community members shouldn’t listen to “chismes” or gossip. Get the facts and don’t be afraid. Medi-Cal does not affect your immigration status.
Where can families enroll in in order to be ready for Health4All Kids?
Clinicas de Salud will be happy to assist with the enrollment process. Our home office is located in the Desert Alliance for Community Empowerment building in Coachella. We also have clinics in Mecca, Coachella, Indio, Westshore and Blythe. Families will need to bring proof of income, IDs, children’s birth certificates, and proof of residency [such as] a water bill.
To find out if your family qualifies for Health4All Kids, contact Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo at 760-398-5229. Additional reporting contributed by Christian Mendez.
About the author:
Amanda Flores, 15, is a lifelong Coachella resident. She joined Coachella Unincorporated earlier this year and has already written several articles on community health and farmworker services. After high school, Amanda said she wants to study law or medicine. View Amanda‘s author page here.