SACRAMENTO, CA — Children’s health advocates commended state legislators and Governor Jerry Brown for crafting a budget that addresses key children’s health priorities. The budget agreement includes $40 million in 2015-16 to expand access to Medi-Cal coverage to all income-eligible children, regardless of immigration status.
“Thanks to leaders in California’s Legislature and Governor Brown, more than 170,000 undocumented children will get access to health coverage, and the preventive care they need to grow up healthy and lead productive lives,” said Wendy Lazarus, Founder and Co-President of The Children’s Partnership.
“This budget is a tremendous step toward providing coverage to every California child. When we invest in our hardworking families and their children, we will see substantial and lasting impacts that benefit all Californians.”
“California is stronger when everyone has access to health care, including our immigrant children and families,” said Corey Timpson, Director of PICO California. “By recognizing the dignity of all children by providing them with health coverage, we save lives, improve school performance, and create positive impacts that last into adulthood. This is a win for our children, and a win for the future of our state.”
The Medi-Cal expansion would be effective May 1, 2016, and is expected to cost $132 million annually when fully implemented.
“California is built on the dreams of immigrant families in search of a better future for their children,” said Alex Johnson, Executive Director of Children’s Defense Fund-California. “Now, these children will have the health coverage they need to survive and thrive, and grow up ready to contribute fully to our state’s workforce and economy. By doing the right thing for children, our state will benefit now and in the future.”
“We thank Senator Ricardo Lara for his strong leadership and commitment to ensuring Health for All, and congratulate Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León, Speaker Toni Atkins, and Governor Brown for their work together to make coverage for children regardless of immigration status a reality,” said Pete Manzo, President and CEO of United Ways of California.
The coalition also applauded the budget’s restoration of the ten percent reimbursement rate cut for dental providers in Medi-Cal, which will improve children’s dental access. A recent state audit noted that current reimbursement rates for the top ten children’s dental services are only 35 percent of the national average.
“We are thrilled that Legislative leaders and the Governor have taken action to address one of the greatest unmet needs among children, dental care,” said Ted Lempert, President of Children Now. “The budget takes an important step to ensure that we have enough dentists to serve the more than half of California children that are already in Medi-Cal.”
“We know California lawmakers understand the value of investment in children’s health, and we look forward to working with our legislators and the Governor during the upcoming special session on Medi-Cal to secure necessary funding for future improvements in our Medi-Cal program,” said Mark Diel, Executive Director of California Coverage and Health Initiatives.