Newsom Gets Giant Valentine from Immigration, Health Groups

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno, inspects the giant Valentine sent by advocacy groups to thank Gov. Gavin Newsom for supporting an expansion of Medi-Cal to more undocumented adults. Photo Credit: Health4All Coalition

Gov. Gavin Newsom got a six-foot-tall Valentine Monday, thanking him for putting Medi-Cal access for undocumented people into his latest budget proposal.

Advocates brought a giant heart-shaped card to the Capitol, covered in letters from dozens of Californians.

Beatriz Hernandez, Central Valley organizing fellow with the California Immigrant Policy Center, said right now, hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants can only get emergency Medi-Cal coverage.

“They can’t just go to any regular visit to the doctor, like you and I,” Hernandez explained. “They can only access care if their lives are at risk in an emergency.”

Gov. Newsom’s proposal would open full-scale Medi-Cal coverage to income-eligible undocumented adults between ages 26 and 49. In recent years, the state has expanded eligibility to undocumented children, seniors and young adults. Opponents of the program cite concerns about cost.

The state Legislative Analyst’s Office said the proposal would cover another 700,000 people and cost the state $2.2 billion a year, if implemented starting in 2024.

Hernandez noted it would make California the first state in the nation to offer health care for all.

“It’s putting California in the front and center, and to show the rest of the nation that this is something that can be done,” Hernandez asserted. “This is what an equitable state can look like when people in power do the right thing.”

Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, D- Los Angeles, and Asm. Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno, both supporters of the “Health4All” campaign, also signed the card. The California Legislature has until June to approve a budget.

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