California Proposal Would Limit Documented Immigrants’ Medicaid Benefits
The Ventura County Star on Monday examined California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) proposal to save about $87 million by cutting some health care services to roughly 91,000 immigrants each month. The proposal is part of a plan to reduce the state's $15 billion budget deficit (Kisken, Ventura County Star, 6/23).
Schwarzenegger's plan would affect preventive health care services through Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program, for documented immigrants who have had green cards for fewer than five years (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 5/21). The changes would give documented immigrants the same Medi-Cal benefits as undocumented immigrants -- coverage for emergency care, prenatal care and nursing home coverage. In addition, the state would save about $42 million by requiring undocumented immigrants to obtain new Medi-Cal cards for emergency services each month, rather than annually (Ventura County Star, 6/23).
The proposal also would eliminate monthly cash aid to about 10,300 documented immigrants and dental benefits for three million indigent, disabled and elderly residents enrolled in Denti-Cal, a state program that covers diagnostic and preventive dental services (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 5/21).
Immigration advocates say the cuts would prevent patients from obtaining preventive care, thus increasing emergency department visits and costs. State Assembly and Senate budget committees have voted against the proposals and other Medi-Cal changes, but state officials say they will continue to push for the cuts.
Stan Rosenstein, chief deputy director for the California Department of Healthcare Services, said, "Nobody likes to make these cuts. The governor is very clear that he doesn't like this proposal." Rosenstein said, "The issue here ... is with the budget crisis we have. We just don't have the money to help out anymore" (Ventura County Star, 6/23).