Medi-Cal coverage expanded to include 19 to 26-year-old undocumented immigrants on Wednesday.
Undocumented children under 19 years old were already covered by Medi-Cal health insurance. They have been since 2016.
But on Tuesday, California's governor signed a law that approved $98 million to expand Medi-Cal to income-eligible undocumented adults from age 19 until they turn 26, making it the first state in the United States to cover this group. California estimates 138,000 young adults will become insured under the new policy..
“All young people, including undocumented, they’re not focusing on their health and this is really an important period where we can help people prevent problems later because young folks will ultimately be older folks when chronic medical conditions really go into effect,” Natividad Medical Center Chief of Staff Dr. Chad Harris said.
Dr. Harris explained that, while health is not necessarily a priority for young adults, he hopes and expects that this law will bring more people into doctor's offices.
California is the first state to cover this demographic with health insurance. And although Dr. Harris anticipates hesitation around disclosing immigration status, he still expects Natividad Hospital to see more patients under this law.
“We’ve been around since the 19th century and we’ll be here in the 21st century to serve all the patients of Monterey County and all of those undocumented," Harris said. "It’s part of our mission, and that’s not going to change.”
This step toward universal healthcare starkly contrasts the priorities of a Republican White House. But Governor Gavin Newsom is using his authority to incrementally bring California as close to universal healthcare as he can.