Asian Immigrants in California Continue To Protest Proposed Medi-Cal Cuts
Asian-American immigrants at a town hall discussion in California on Wednesday continued to protest proposed cuts to Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program, that would eliminate some health services to documented immigrants, the Oakland Tribune reports (Hill, Oakland Tribune, 7/23). Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) proposal seeks 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.
Schwarzenegger's plan would affect preventive health care services for documented immigrants who have had green cards for fewer than five years. 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.
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, 6/24).
More than 500 people attended the town hall meeting held at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center auditorium to express opposition to the proposal, many speaking through translators. The attendees also signed petitions calling for a tax increase on corporations to address the budget deficit instead of cutting services to immigrants.
Sherry Hirota -- CEO of Asian Health Services, which sponsored the event -- said, "With this budget, Asian Health Services alone would lose up to $1.5 million and be forced to close some clinics and lay off staff." She added, "This is unfair to the Asian community. More than 75% of Asian and Pacific Islanders in California are foreign-born. These cuts aimed at new legal immigrants will disproportionately impact the Asian community" (Oakland Tribune, 7/23).