By Bill Hendrickson
Maria Elena Durazo, the state senator representing Northeast Los Angeles, has introduced SB 56, a bill that would expand Medi-Cal health care coverage to undocumented, low-income seniors age 65 and older.
The bill comes on the heels of other expansions that allow children and young adults who are undocumented to obtain Medi-Cal coverage. It would apply to an estimated 35,000 people, a sliver of the state’s undocumented population of 1.5 million. An estimated $120 million expansion, it would also be a tiny fraction of the state’s huge health care budget.
Durazo has pointed out the health care is a human right and that expanding Medi-Cal to undocumented seniors is a step toward achieving the governor’s priority of universal health care coverage. She has also pointed out that undocumented residents contribute $3.2 billion in taxes for programs like Medi-Cal and yet undocumented seniors are explicitly excluded from coverage. The pandemic is another reason to expand Medi-Cal, says Durazo, because Latinos have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus and seniors are especially vulnerable. “Only quality healthcare for all will make us all safer,” she says.
A companion measure to SB 56 in the state assembly, AB 4, would expand Medi-Cal to undocumented residents of all ages who would be eligible but for their immigration status. Wendy Carrillo, the state assemblymember for Northeast L.A., is a co-author of AB 4.
Both SB 56 and Ab 4 are now being considered in the Health committees of the Senate and Assembly, respectively.
Bill Hendrickson, MBA, publisher of the Boulevard Sentinel, has extensive small business management, marketing and sales experience in corporate finance and real estate development and plays a not terrible game of golf.