California will begin offering Medi-Cal coverage next month to children living in the state illegally.
Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic lawmakers agreed to this decision during last year’s state budget deal.
Rene Mollow, deputy director of health care benefits and eligibility for the California Department of Health Care Services, says the program is a "big deal" for families who meet Medi-Cal income requirements.
"We’re looking at this as a huge opportunity in terms of helping to ensure that the children who are in the state of California have access to comprehensive health care services," Mollow says.
Right now, undocumented children 18 and under living in California can only get access to emergency and pregnancy care through Medi-Cal. They will be eligible for full coverage under the new program.
Mollow says families do not have to worry about the risk of deportation from registering for Medi-Cal.
“The information that we collect for Medi-Cal eligibility purposes is strictly for Medi-Cal eligibility purposes,” Mollow says.
The DHCS says approximately 170,000 children are either uninsured or have partial coverage. Of that number, about 115,000 have partial coverage, and the remaining have no insurance but are eligible.
Implementation will begin May 16, but coverage will be retroactive to May 1.