Photo of the California State Capitol

This Session at the Capitol

Published: 09/23/2016

This article includes reflections and summaries of the legislation our organization followed during the second half of 2016. It was a successful session overall and LCHC’s Interim Executive Director, Health Policy Outreach Manager, and Health Policy Outreach Associate discuss why below.

rebecca de la rosa – interim executive director

California keeps its statute as the leading state on policies that advance justice, making it very clear that people matter!  Bold leadership and a sense of urgency manifested in the halls of the state Capitol through coalition work and partnerships.  Whether it was advocating for overtime pay for farm workers or disaggregation of data, LCHC can say this legislative year was one to remember.  However, our work continues through this election year to make sure we continue to support Latino health through our local elections and ballot initiatives that address health equity.

Imelda Plascencia – Consultant, Health Policy Outreach Manager

Health for All Kids and Undocumented Adults:
Nationally, the Affordable Care Act unfairly excludes undocumented people from accessing health care services. To address health disparities in the state, California implemented the Health for All Kids program in May of this year, which allows all children under the age of 19, regardless of immigration status, eligibility for Full-Scope Medi-Cal. With implementation of Health for All Kids, California joins the states of New York, Illinois, Massachusetts and Washington in providing healthcare coverage for children, regardless of immigration status.

California is also one of few states that approved for eligible Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients to qualify for Full-Scope Medi-Cal. In addition, undocumented adults are eligible for the limited Emergency Medi-Cal program. Moving forward, immigrant rights leaders and health justice advocates continue to promote the need for undocumented adults to access the same kind of care and uplift the message that healthcare is a human right.

To advance enrollment efforts and assure undocumented families of their safety, it is critical to emphasize that personal information and immigration status will not be shared with immigration agencies and will only be used to determine eligibility into a health program. In addition, enrollment into Medi-Cal is not a public charge and enrollment does not impact one’s ability to adjust their immigration status.

The Innovation Waiver:
This month, California submitted an application to the Obama Administration to approve the 1332 Innovation Waiver that would allow undocumented Californians and DACA recipients to purchase a health plan through Covered California with their own money. Currently, undocumented individuals are excluded from purchasing a health plan under the state market place. Approval of the waiver allows California to remove unfair barriers to accessing care, and makes it possible for entire families to access information about their health coverage at the same time, so that family members can choose the same plan and providers.

Personal Reflection:
As I engage with our immigrant rights leaders and health advocate partners in these efforts, I continue to learn about the importance of wellness, healthy habits, self-care and community care. Our fight to expand access has allowed for greater conversations to take place around well being, emotional, physical and spiritual health. Witnessing these conversations manifest in our work and personal lives has been beautiful. I am grateful for being part of this work and appreciate our partners for their continued support. We will continue to advocate so California policy represents our values as we continue to learn how to protect each other.

Adriana Mora – Health Policy outreach associate

From this legislative session, I would like to highlight the importance of Senate Bill 1139, Medical DREAMER Opportunity Act, which is currently sitting on the Governor’s desk awaiting his signature. It is a much needed bill to allow students, regardless of immigration status, to fulfill their dreams of becoming health care professionals. Currently 40% of the population in California is Latino and this number is increasing leading to a greater demand for linguistically and culturally competent healthcare providers1. There are many undocumented students who have the knowledge, experience, and passion to succeed in the health professions, but get held back due to their inability to finance their education. SB 1139 would facilitate options for student funding to complete medical training programs and residency. This is extremely important as it would open doors to individuals who came to this country with the hope to succeed for themselves and their families. This bill is supported by the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, Pre-Health Dreamers, MedDreamers at UCLA and, of course, Senator Lara who has been a Champion in addressing health disparities in communities of color. Opposing this bill deprives hard working students from serving their community and continues to place barriers for undocumented individuals who wish to succeed.

 1 In 2014, Latinos will surpass whites as largest racial/ethnic group in California (2014). Pew Research Center . Retrieved September 2016, from