Hundreds of thousands of low-income, undocumented children in California will be eligible to enroll in full-scope health coverage through Medi-Cal starting on May 1 under legislation approved last year.
As officials try to get the word out about California's decision to open the program to children from low-income families regardless of immigration status, these kids will still face significant barriers to obtaining the coverage, says the San Bernardino County Sun.
Officials say they hope community clinics, religious groups and ethnic media outlets will help alert undocumented immigrants to enroll their children. Even so, state officials expect only about half of eligible kids to enroll in the program in its first year, the Sun writes.
Many undocumented families may be reluctant to participate out of fear that it would put at risk their chance to obtain a legal immigration status. Lack of empowerment and confusion over how and why to enroll may also make it difficult to reach the eligible families, experts say.
The expansion will extend Medi-Cal coverage to about 170,000 undocumented immigrant children under age 19. About 115,000 undocumented children are currently enrolled in restricted Medi-Cal programs and 55,000 eligible children aren’t receiving coverage, the Sun writes.