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Up to 220,000 California children excluded from health care reform due to immigrant status
Date:6/30/2011

rom the ACA-funded Medi-Cal expansion due to their status as either undocumented immigrants or legal immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for fewer than five years.

An estimated additional 40,000 children who are legal citizens of the U.S. also may be excluded from the ACA coverage expansions as a result of confusion over their parents' citizenship status. Specifically, parents who are non-citizens without a green card who are themselves excluded from public programs and the exchange may perceive that the documentation restrictions also apply to their qualified citizen children, the study's authors predict.

Community clinics and budget cuts

Without coverage, parents and children alike will likely fall back on community clinics, which have long been a source of care for undocumented and new immigrant children.

"It is neither prudent nor fair to lock immigrants out of purchasing coverage through the exchange," said Daniel Zingale, senior vice president of The California Endowment, which funded the study along with The California Wellness Foundation. "The politicization of health care access for immigrants is unsound policy. Everyone needs access, and we know people generally have better access to preventive care when they have health coverage. This helps prevent costly health conditions."

Although public coverage programs such as Medi-Cal and Healthy Families provide a safety net for more than 1 million immigrant children, including undocumented children, state funding to cover this population may soon dry up due to California's ongoing budget crisis.

"Our health care system works best when everyone has access to and utilizes ongoing preventive care that keeps simple problems from turning into costly emergencies," said Gary L. Yates, president and CEO of The California Wellness Foundation. "To do otherwise, presents a public health risk."


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Contact: Gwen Driscoll
gdriscoll@ucla.edu
310-794-0930
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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