Suzanne Potter / California News Service
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California leads the nation in enrolling Latino children in health insurance, thanks in large part to massive outreach efforts and to the state’s expansion of Medi-Cal under the Affordable Care Act.
A report from the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, the National Council of La Raza and the California Children’s Health Coverage Coalition found that the uninsurance rate for Latino children in California went down by almost 3 percentage points from 2013 to 2014.
Fatima Morale, policy and outreach associate with the children’s advocacy group Children Now, says the rate is poised to go down even more starting in May, when the Health for All Kids Act goes into effect.
“Undocumented kids who are under the age of 19 and meet the requirements will now have full-scope Medi-Cal coverage, and that covers much more than restricted-scope Medi-Cal,” she explains. “It includes dental care, vision, mental health, so it really ensures that kids get all the health services that they need to thrive.”
Some 170,000 undocumented children are expected to gain coverage with the new law.
Sonya Schwartz, a spokeswoman for the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, says the state’s future depends on the success of its children.
“Healthy children are healthy learners,” she stresses. “We have some new research available, and it shows that health coverage for children is linked to better health throughout childhood. It’s linked to school success, and it’s linked to improved financial security for their families.”
But Children Now says the state still has a long way to go – with almost 500,000 uninsured children, close to two-thirds of whom are Latino.