Medi-Cal for Undocumented Immigrants  

Medi-Cal is the California rendition of federal Medicaid, providing health insurance for undocumented immigrants. California is the first state to provide such a benefit. All undocumented immigrants regardless of age, having low incomes will qualify for Medi-Cal, the Children’s Health Insurance Program or even the Affordable Care Act if their incomes are sufficient. This brings California one step closer to universal health care coverage. Medi-Cal was previously available to undocumented immigrants for pregnancies and emergency services.

Access to Health Care

This measure expands the number of undocumented immigrants who are eligible for Medi-Cal to more than 700,000. Governor Gavin Newsom stated that “In California, we believe that everyone has access to quality, affordable health care coverage,” notwithstanding a person’s income or immigration status.

Decreases in Availability

When everybody is healthy, the need for both physical and mental health services, hospitalizations, nursing home, emergency and other services decreases. Having the ability to access such services also operates to decrease the disparity in the availability of health care services to minorities.

Criticism of Expansion

Critics of the expansion of coverage say that the addition of more than 700,000  people into the stat-run health care system will only highlight the already existing provider access problem and cost more than $2.6 billion annually. Seeing the relief on the faces of immigrants who are able to see a doctor and not get a bill is sufficient relief for many. It has a massive impact on entire segments of the population and brings great joy to many people  in providing that help.

A Black Hole in California Finances

What comes to issue is the fact that the State of California’s finances are already severely strained. It’s far more than $2.6 billion annually. That $2.6 billion is for Med-Cal only. Other state funds are swirling around and landing in other places. California taxpayers don’t really know where their money is going with assistance to undocumented immigrants. There appears to be a big black hole in California’s finances. This is only the first state in the country to subsidize health care coverage for undocumented immigrants. The law doesn’t appear to provide for this, and the constitutionality of it appears to be at issue. The purported rights undocumented immigrants are not addressed in either the United States Constitution or the California Constitution.


California continues to lead the country as a destination for those moving to the US. It is estimated that more than 10.4 million immigrants came to California from 2017-2021. By expanding health care coverage to the undocumented, the state strives to provide a better life for these new residents.