California Medicaid Expansion, Health Insurance for Immigrants

California Medicaid Expansion, Health Insurance for Immigrants

In this short article, we will overview the California Medicaid Expansion. This Medi-Cal expansion has facilitated the Health Insurance for Immigrants (undocumented people) living in California.


Background of California Medicaid Expansion (Medi-Cal Expansion):

On May 30, 2018,  the Democrat-controlled California General Assembly passed the AB2965 or Medi-Cal bill. They passed Medi-Cal: immigration status, a bill amending Section 14007.8 of the Welfare and Institutions Code. Thus, Governor Jerry Brown signed that bill with little opposition.

As currently written, AB2965 would permit individuals under the age of 26 and who have not or cannot establish satisfactory immigration status to be eligible for Medi-Cal benefits. Hence, California Medicaid expansion will provide health insurance to undocumented immigrants.

Moreover, under the Assembly’s proposal, individuals who enroll in Medi-Cal must enroll in a Medi-Cal managed care plan. In compliance with federal law, AB2965 also requires the state to seek support from the federal government. But if the state fails to receive federal support, the state can use state-only funds to finance its Medi-Cal expansion.[i]

Conclusion of California Medicaid Expansion:

AB2965 marks an important step toward increasing access to coverage Medicaid and insurance in California. The Expansion of Medi-Cal means that a person’s immigration status (if he or she is under the age of 26) will no longer serve as a barrier to health insurance. Hence, this will reduce the rate of California’s uninsured people. Ultimately, AB2965 would ensure that all children and young adults will have access to consistent, comprehensive health care through Medi-Cal [ii] while reducing out-of-pocket costs.[iii]

You can also compare California Medicaid Expansion to some other expansions of the same time. That includes Montana Medicaid Expansion,   ACA Medicaid Expansion update, and  New Jersey Health Insurance Expansion.

Explanation and citations:

[i] 8 U.S.C. § 1621 provides that an alien who is not a qualified alien or a nonimmigrant as defined under 8 U.S.C. § 1101 et seq.  is not eligible for any state or local public health benefit.  However, the Code also includes the exception that States may decide that an illegal alien is eligible for public benefits in the State, for which the alien would otherwise be ineligible, by enacting a State law after August 22, 1996, that affirmatively provides for such eligibility.  In this instance, it is unlikely that California will receive FFP from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to fund the expansion of Medi-Cal as described,  so this legislation will more likely than not be paid for with state and local funds.

[ii] Section 14007.8 (b) of the proposed legislation states, [A]n individual eligible under this section shall be required to enroll in a Medi-Cal managed care plan.


Key Facts About the Uninsured Population, Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Published September 19. 2-17, Updated November 29, 2017. (Last viewed May 31, 2018).


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