There’s a calculation Jonatan Gutierrez knows too well, a cost-benefit analysis uninsured Californians make daily: Is the pain or illness worth the cost of seeing a doctor or walking into an emergency room?
Gutierrez has watched his parents navigate that uncertainty. At times, the 32-year-old has lived it himself. Despite qualifying based on earnings for the state’s healthcare program for low-income residents, Gutierrez and his parents are not eligible for Medi-Cal because they are living in the country illegally.
“My dad has not wanted to go to the doctor,” Gutierrez said. “He would refuse to see a doctor because, he would say, ‘Why would we spend money we don’t have?’”
But that calculation is about to change for Gutierrez and his family. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill Tuesday related to the state budget that would push California further out front in erasing the lines between which safety net programs undocumented people qualify for. Low-income Californians 50 and older will be eligible after May 1, 2022, for healthcare coverage regardless of immigration status under the law, a move that extends comprehensive benefits to approximately 235,000 residents living in the country illegally.
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