Efforts to elevate the stories of undocumented seniors seeking treatment for chronic illness and preventative care failed to win an expansion of Medi-Cal in the approved California state budget on June 25. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson spoke to an immigrant right’s advocate on what this means for the Inland Empire.
Not only are seniors at a higher risk for COVID-19, but immigrant communities have been disproportionately hit hard by the pandemic says Lyzzeth Mendoza, a policy manager for the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice.
“What worries me is that you know their lives are literally put at risk and being sentenced, to a death sentence if you will," said Mendoza. "Because they’re not being prioritized by our state or the full scope that we can offer them.”
The state says a Medi-Cal expansion has to be delayed until there is a full economic recovery from the pandemic. This means approximately 3,000 elders in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties will have to indefinitely navigate the medical system without insurance says Mendoza.
“Regardless of status, we believe in the dignity of human life. And regardless of status you should be able to access these resources,” said Mendoza.
She says the issue of expanded coverage is especially urgent in the region since San Bernardino County had to cut programs to support medical services for the indigent and undocumented in 2008 and Riverside County’s program is limited in scope.
She and others are looking for revenue solutions like a reform of the 1978 version of Proposition 13. In November, voters will consider closing a corporate tax loophole from the decades old proposition, which Mendoza is hopeful could generate enough revenue for a Medi-Cal expansion.