Thursday, June 8, 2023

Gavin Newsom plans to extend food benefits to the undocumented by 2025

After months of criticism from pro-immigrant activists, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new budget extends food benefits to older undocumented Californians.

The announcement marks a major change of course for Newsom, who in January proposed a state spending plan that would delay the rollout of aid for undocumented immigrants age 55 and older until 2027. loss.

On Friday, Newsom unveiled his budget proposal with the deficit growing to $31.5 billion.

But the budget amendment was a welcome result for activists, who said California was falling short of its goal of becoming the first state in the nation to offer food benefits to undocumented immigrants. Activists hope Newsom’s plan is the first step toward extending food benefits to all undocumented residents.

“We view this updated timeline as a welcome sign of progress,” said Benjamin Chao, manager of public benefits and health policy at the California Immigrant Policy Center. “But our leaders still need to act more proactively to address the dire levels of food insecurity that are affecting Californians, especially the most vulnerable.”

The review included $40 million for automation and outreach to meet that goal, which was a $5 million increase from January’s outlay. The expansion has been contingent on the state’s conversion to a single system, known as the California Statewide Automated Assistance System migration. It is estimated that this process will end in July.

About 75,000 Californians are expected to begin receiving benefits when the rollout begins, according to a 2022 report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

The latest timeline for food assistance comes as two lawmakers attempt to push through bills that would provide state-funded food benefits to all Californians currently ineligible due to immigration status. Nearly half of undocumented Californians face food insecurity, according to an April 2022 report from Nourish California.

Sen. Melissa Hurtado, D-Sanger reintroduced the Food for All Act, Senate Bill 245, for the second year in a row. And Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, introduced a similar version in his chamber as AB 311.

Neither of the bills include dates for its application.

Newsom keeps his promise on Medi-Cal

Despite a growing budget deficit, the governor also kept his commitment to expand Medi-Cal to all undocumented immigrants.

“The work we’re doing to expand health care regardless of immigration status stands in stark contrast to the rhetoric of today, tomorrow, tomorrow when it comes to what’s happening in this country,” Newsom said. “It’s a matter of pride and privilege.”

This means that starting January 1, everyone, regardless of immigration status, will have access to health insurance if they qualify for Medi-Cal. The expansion of the program is expected to provide full coverage to nearly 700,000 undocumented residents ages 26 to 49, marking the biggest drop in the percentage of Californians without health insurance in a decade.

The state already allows some undocumented residents to enroll in Medi-Cal, the state’s implementation of Medicare.

In 2015, California began allowing undocumented children to enroll in Medi-Cal. Four years later, eligibility was expanded to those under 26. And last year, the state began including people over the age of 50.

Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno, also introduced legislation to expand income eligibility for Medi-Cal coverage to more undocumented residents.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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