June 19 2015

Finally, California has a ‘Health for All Kids’ state budget.  All kids will be eligible for Medi-Cal regardless of their immigration status.

Meanwhile, states like Florida are still refusing to accept Obamacare’s offer to cover uninsured residents there, even those who meet all of the legal requirements of citizenship.  Not long ago, adults in that same category in need of coverage here in California were similarly shut out. And undocumented Californians of all ages were deliberately denied access to the all-important benefits of basic preventive care.

But in today’s California, that is all changing right before our eyes.

From the start, our state saw Obamacare for the long-awaited chance it is and led the nation in putting it to work. And we didn’t stop there. We are also taking on the single biggest shortcoming in the new federal law — its exclusion from health coverage of those still waiting for Washington to offer them a path to legal status.

This week’s budget agreement by legislative leaders and Governor Brown will allow children access to the preventive health benefits of Medi-Cal regardless of their immigration status.  State Senator Ricardo Lara put the idea on the table and pushed it through. He wants the same equitable treatment for adults too and has made it clear he will keep fighting for that in the Capitol.

Local leaders continue to wage the same fight in counties across the state, including an important step forward for Sacramento County on the same day the governor agreed to coverage for all kids. And this week’s state budget win for kids will require a lot of work and commitment from all of us to implement, in the Capitol, in the media, and on the ground.

But we wouldn’t have had the chance if not for the courage and optimism of the many undocumented youth who stepped up and in to the media spotlight to tell their stories and those of their families. With the support of local and statewide organizers and advocates, they changed the narrative about what it means to be Californian.

And by doing so, they are reigniting what California is meant to be: a beacon to the nation of health and justice for all.

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