- Felicia Matlosz
SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) today praised Governor Newsom for including the expansion of access to full scope Medi-Cal to income-eligible adults ages 26 to 49, regardless ofimmigration status, in his proposed State budget for 2022-23. This would make California the first state in thenation to achieve universal access to health care coverage.
Arambula for several years has championed Assembly Bill 4, known as the “Health For All” bill, with health and immigration advocates to finalize the last critical step needed to ensure that Medi-Cal coverage can be obtained by every eligible individual. In previous years, advocates successfully won this coverage for undocumented children and young adults, and, just last year, for undocumented adults 50 years of age and older.
Implementation for income-eligible adults 26 to 49 would begin January 2024.
Assemblymember Arambula said: “I deeply appreciate Governor Newsom’s commitment to this vital expansion that, in a word, will be transformative for hundreds of thousands of Californians. I’m also profoundly grateful to the advocates who have fought for this much-needed change, and I’m excited to keep working with them through its implementation.
“As the Governor said, no other state has done this before, and the impact of this measure cannot be overstated. When I was an emergency room physician, I saw how the lack of insurance weighed on patients, how they delayed care or didn’t seek it at all until their condition had reached a critical stage. We know the unjust exclusion to health care means people get sicker and die sooner.”
“COVID-19 has shown clearly how imperative it is to bring equity to our health care system, especially as the pandemic killed and struck Latinos and other ethnic minorities the hardest as well as those living in our most vulnerable communities,” Arambula said. “I’m proud that California continues to lead the way in improving the quality of life for people. This expansion is nothing short of life-changing.”
Jose Torres Casillas, Legislative Advocate for Health Access California, said: “This is a major victory and investment. Undocumented Californians have been excluded from receiving health coverage, and this is a big step in closing the gap of people who are uninsured in California. This budget proposal is reflective of California’s commitment to immigrant communities, and our work continues to make sure that no Californian is left out of Medi-Cal.”
Other advocates have included the California Immigrant Policy Center, Dolores Huerta and the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and State Senator María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles).
Assemblymember Arambula, who chairs the Assembly Subcommittee No. 1 on Health and Human Services, also lauded other parts of the Governor’s proposed budget, such as approximately $6 billion to tackle the drought, including how the historic drought has impacted small farmers; more than $2 billion to address homelessness, including new housing units and clearing encampments; and transportation funds to finish the High Speed Rail project in the Central Valley.
In addition, the proposed fiscal plan also includes significant funding to expand workforce development programs; more funding for education; investments for afterschool programs and to achieve free universal pre-K; investments to bolster crime prevention efforts; and an unprecedented effort to improve a range of health and behavioral health services for California residents.
Arambula said: “This proposed budget shows that California is at the forefront of dynamic and meaningful change to uplift the lives of the State’s residents, especially those in our most underserved and disadvantaged communities, to make this a California for ALL.”