Above: Community members, elected officials and Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo staff celebrate the launch of Health 4 All Kids in Coachella, Calif. on Saturday, May 14, 2016. (Image: Amanda Flores/Coachella Unincorporated)
By: Amanda Flores
COACHELLA, Calif. — Starting today, all low-income children in California, regardless of their immigration status, are eligible for affordable, quality health care.
Last year, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 4, part of the Health for All Kids Act, authored by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens). The bill allows undocumented children, under the age of 19 to apply for coverage under Medi-Cal, California’s insurance program for low-income residents.
Senator Lara, along with Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), was in Coachella on Saturday morning at Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo to promote enrollment in the Health 4 All Kids Medi-Cal expansion.
“My motivation continues to be my parents, who came to the U.S. as undocumented immigrants and fought everyday to make sure my siblings and I had the most resources to succeed,” said Lara. “I believe it is my responsibility as a state senator to ensure that other children and their families have the opportunity to succeed as well.”
Under the full-scope Medi-Cal coverage, undocumented children will now have access to more preventative services like annual check ups, vaccines, regular doctor visits, and dental and vision care. These services were previously unavailable to undocumented children in restricted-scope Medi-Cal.
Theresa Chavez, 36, a Thermal resident who came to the Health 4 All event on Saturday, said she was grateful to Senator Lara for his advocacy in fighting to provide comprehensive healthcare to all children in California.
Chavez’s nine-year old daughter suffered from ear infections last year and was unable to visit a health care provider due to expensive medical bills. Now thanks to the Health 4 All Kids act, Chavez said all her children would have access to affordable health care.
Luz Moreno, community engagement manager for Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo, has been working to get families like Chavez’s enrolled to in the Health 4 All Kids program since January.
“Health has no borders. It is a human right for all,” said Moreno at the Health 4 All event.
The program’s initial budget included $40 million for the Health 4 All Kids Program in the first year, and an estimated $132 million annually once the program is fully implemented. Under this budget, the program was expected to benefit an estimated 170,000 undocumented children in, according to Lara’s office. However, Gov. Brown’s May revision of the state budget includes a $188.2 million general fund for full-scope Medi-Cal coverage, which will help serve an an additional 15,000 children in California.
At the Health 4 All celebration on Saturday, Senator Lara also spoke about SB10, his proposed bill to allow undocumented adults to purchase private health plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“What we’re doing here in California is historic and I know it’s going to resonate across the country and other states are going to follow,” said Lara. “This is a tremendous victory, but this is just the beginning, and we have to move forward to ensure that undocumented adults can receive healthcare.”
For more information on enrolling in Health 4 All Kids, contact Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo at 760-398-5229.
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.