(SACRAMENTO) – Assembly Bill 4 -- introduced by Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula in a renewed effort to ensure that undocumented adults in California have access to health care -- passed on the Assembly floor late Tuesday afternoon.
The bill – co-sponsored by Health Access California and the California Immigrant Policy Center – now will move to the State Senate for consideration.
Arambula (D-Fresno) is an emergency room doctor who reintroduced in this legislative session, “Health4All,” a program that will make undocumented adults, who are otherwise excluded from Medi-Cal based solely on their immigration status, eligible for full scope Medi-Cal services. This lack of access to health care results in acute medical problems and ongoing health issues that harm quality of life, hinder ability to work and eventually generate higher health care costs to the overall system. AB 4 will remove immigration status as a barrier to adults accessing full scope Medi-Cal.
“Health care is a human right. ALL Californians should have the right to health care, regardless of immigration status,” Arambula said. “I am proud that in California we are tearing down barriers for our immigrant families, not building them. AB 4 will help achieve Health for All.”
California already, as of 2016, has provided full-scope Medi-Cal coverage to all children, no matter where they were born. Known as “Health4AllKids,” it covers more than 250,000 undocumented children. However, despite the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, it’s estimated that nearly 3 million Californians still don’t have health insurance coverage – and about 58 percent of them are undocumented adults.
Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), who helped carry AB 4 through the Assembly, said of the major step: “Health care is a right, not a privilege; for all, not the few,” said Assemblymember Bonta. “By providing health care to undocumented Californian adults, AB 4 helps move us closer to our vision of universal health care. As a joint author of AB 4, I’m proud to see this important legislation pass the Assembly floor.”
The executive leaders of Health Access and California Immigrant Policy Center, the bill’s co-sponsors, expressed appreciation that AB 4 is advancing in the State Legislature.
“We greatly appreciate the growing legislative support to remove the exclusions in Medi-Cal based on immigration status. Toward this goal of health for all Californians, we hope our state policymakers also take big steps in the budget negotiations this year, by covering more young adults and seniors,” said Anthony Wright, Executive Director of Health Access California, a co-chair of the #Health4All campaign. “Expanding Medi-Cal will not just benefit the individual Californians, but bolster the health and financial vitality of their families, their communities, and our whole state.”
Cynthia Buiza, Executive Director of the California Immigrant Policy Center, a co-chair of the #Health4All campaign, said: “With today's vote, the Assembly has brought hope to immigrant Californians across the state who for too long have been locked out of life-saving health care. With representatives from every region of California voting to expand health care to all Californians, momentum is undeniably growing to address this long-standing injustice - especially for undocumented elders. We hope the Assembly's wise action today continues to inspire compassion and courage.”