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New Budget Will Extend Medi-Cal Coverage to 170,000 Undocumented Kids

California Joins Handful of States Providing Health Coverage to All Children

June 18, 2015

OAKLAND, CA — As part of the budget deal announced Tuesday, Governor Brown and the legislature have agreed to a $40 million Medi-Cal expansion to cover children from undocumented families. The expansion will increase to $132 million annually upon full implementation, and is expected to cover 170,000 kids. California will become one of just a handful of states, including New York and Massachusetts, providing health coverage for all kids regardless of immigration status.

Children Now President Ted Lempert said that health coverage for undocumented children has been a long time coming.

“This is both a fiscal and a moral victory for the state,” he said. “Leaving vulnerable kids to find their own way through a complex and costly healthcare system is unconscionable. It's more cost-effective for children to get preventive care than for families to use the emergency room for healthcare. So this decision also makes good economic sense.”

Research shows that kids who don’t have primary care physicians are nine times more likely to be hospitalized for preventable conditions, and uninsured children admitted to the emergency room are 60% more likely to die than children with insurance.

Additionally, improved access to health coverage has been shown to increase academic success and high school graduation rates. Medicaid-eligible children are also more likely to attend college, make greater contributions as taxpayers and live longer than kids growing up without health coverage and access to preventive care.

There is more work to be done to ensure that all California children get the care they need to grow up healthy. Tuesday’s decision is an important step toward aligning state policy with California’s top priority – our children’s health and wellbeing.


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Children Now is the leading nonpartisan umbrella research, policy development and advocacy organization dedicated to promoting children's health, education, and child welfare in California and creating national media policies that support child development. Children Now also leads The Children’s Movement of California, a grassroots network of more than 1,150 business, education, parent, civil rights, and faith-, community-, and ethnic-based organizations, as well as thousands of individuals, that want to see children prioritized in public policymaking. Learn more about us at

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