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What do changes to Medicaid mean for California's undocumented children?




(Lt. to Rt.) Edwin Bernal, 9, finished homework, while his brother Angel Lozano, 5, watches videos before school at their home in Los Angeles, Friday January 20, 2017. Last year Edwin was among a group of undocumented children, who qualified for Medi-Cal coverage through a state funded program. His brother is covered because he was born in the United States. His mother fears that under the Trump administration the program will be in danger and he will no longer have medical coverage. (Photo By Maria J. Avila/CalMatters)
(Lt. to Rt.) Edwin Bernal, 9, finished homework, while his brother Angel Lozano, 5, watches videos before school at their home in Los Angeles, Friday January 20, 2017. Last year Edwin was among a group of undocumented children, who qualified for Medi-Cal coverage through a state funded program. His brother is covered because he was born in the United States. His mother fears that under the Trump administration the program will be in danger and he will no longer have medical coverage. (Photo By Maria J. Avila/CalMatters)
Maria J. Avila/CALmatters

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The planned repeal of the Affordable Care Act has many in California asking how it could affect the state's current healthcare programs. With changes to Medicare funding on the horizon, concerns are growing over what it could mean for the health of California's undocumented children.

Take Two's A Martinez sat down with Elizabeth Aguilera who has been looking in to this for CALmatters - a non profit reporting project that focuses on public policy issues in the state. 

Highlight

Until last May, undocumented kids were not eligible for full scope Medi-Cal and then that changed. In 2015, the legislature approved this bill, the governor signed it, and then kids were eligible for full scope. And that's basically medical insurance. It includes dental care, it includes mental health services. Sort of your full scope medical insurance. 

There are now 164,000 kids registered across the state. And the biggest group is here in Los Angeles County. There are 65,000 kids on it.

Several experts predict... that this program could be in danger if the federal government makes the changes they plan to make to the Affordable Care Act, and if they change Medicaid. Specifically the Medicaid funding. Medi-Cal in California if the Medicaid program here, we just call it something different.

The new administration favors going to a block grant system. And what that means is, every state will get a certain amount of funds. That's it. So the concern is, the state legislature will have to decide who's going to continue to be covered. And because these children were the last ones in the program, and some critics argue that you have to focus on citizens and legal residents first, they could also be the first out. 

To hear the full interview, click on the Media Player above.