Over one year since the COVID-19 pandemic began, confirmed cases and hospitalizations are declining and over 20 million vaccines have been administered. While these are positive developments, state leaders must invest in communities that have been historically underserved and have been most impacted by the pandemic. Long-standing state and federal policy choices that do not value communities of color have compromised people’s ability to be healthy before and during the pandemic. Undocumented seniors, in particular, have a higher risk of severe illness and death due to COVID-19 because of their age while at the same time they have faced unjust exclusion from comprehensive health coverage through Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, due to their immigration status. Blocking Californians who are undocumented from vital health coverage is not only detrimental to their health, but also perpetuates racial health disparities. State policymakers can advance health equity by expanding comprehensive Medi-Cal coverage to all undocumented Californians with an urgency to cover seniors in the immediate future.
Funding for this Issue Brief was provided by the California Health Care Foundation.