Thirty-five California counties have agreed to provide health care coverage for illegal immigrants in the United States.
The decision was made Thursday by the County Medical Services Program — which provides health services to the poor in the mostly rural, sparsely populated counties.
The program is expected to begin next year. The program anticipates having several thousands of people to enroll.
Forty-seven of California’s 58 counties have now agreed to pay low-cost medical coverage to eligible people regardless of their immigration status, KOLOTV reported.
Immigrants who are in the state illegally now comprise the single largest group of uninsured Californians.
For several years, just 11 of the state’s 58 counties provided some form of low-cost medical coverage to these uninsured immigrants.
Healthcare services in 35 of the smallest counties are managed by a state outfit known as the County Medical Services Program. Most are located in the northern part of the state, these counties including Sonoma, Solano, and Marin, in addition to Imperial, at the Mexico border.
For the first time in its more than 30-year history, the panel that governs the program voted Thursday to offer medical care to people who are illegal immigrants.
“Even if these are not the most populated counties, for this to be available in nearly half of the geography of California is an important step,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California. Officials say a few thousand people could enroll in the program across the member counties, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“Frankly, it’s just the right thing to do,” Dan Saylor, a supervisor in Yolo County, said in an interview Friday. “For us to have an underclass that is left out is unconscionable.”
In addition to this , last week, Governor Jerry Brown signed a state budget that expands Medi-Cal coverage to low-income children regardless of their legal status.