Californians support extending Medi-Cal to undocumented residents

Results from the 2015 Cal Wellness–Field Health Policy Survey – Part 1

By Mark DiCamillo, Director, The Field Poll
The Field Poll, August 26, 2015

Increasing voter support for extending Medi-Cal to undocumented residents

The current survey repeated a question first posed to California voters last year about whether the state's Medi-Cal program should be expanded to provide preventive health services to undocumented residents, who are not currently eligible for coverage under the ACA. The results show that 58% of the state's registered voters now favor extending Medi-Cal for undocumented residents, while 39% are opposed. This represents a significant increase in voter support from last year when supporters outnumbered opponents by a narrower 51% to 45% margin.

However, there are big differences in voter opinions about this proposal by party. Democrats favor the idea four to one (78% to 19%), while Republicans are opposed nearly three to one (72% to 25%). No party preference voters largely reflect overall voter sentiment, supporting the proposal 60% to 38%.

When examining voter opinions by race and ethnicity, registered Latinos report the highest level of support for extending Medi-Cal to undocumented immigrants, with 77% in favor. However, the proposal also now receives majority support from the state’s white non-Hispanic, African American and Asian American voters.

Topline findings

10. I am going to read some proposals that have been made to expand or modify the way the health care law is implemented in California, and please tell me whether you favor or oppose each one. Do you favor strongly, favor somewhat, oppose somewhat or oppose strongly this proposal?

a. Expand the state’s Medi-Cal health care program for low income residents to provide preventive health services to undocumented residents who are not eligible for coverage under the current health care law.

35%  Favor strongly

23%  Favor somewhat

14%  Oppose somewhat

25%  Oppose strongly

 3%  Don’t know/Refused



By Don McCanne, MD

One of the major deficiencies in the Affordable Care Act is that undocumented residents were deliberately excluded from mandated coverage. It has been estimated that roughly one-third of the 30 million or so who will remain uninsured are these undocumented residents. Was Congress following the wishes of the people when they excluded these individuals from coverage? Not if you judge by the views of Californians: 58% support expanding Medi-Cal to low-income undocumented residents.

In fact, every racial group of California voters polled is in support: Latino, white non-Hispanic, African American and Asian American voters.  The only group opposed is not racial, but rather political: Republicans, with 72% opposed, while 78% of Democrats are in support.

At Physicians for a National Health Program, we support health care reform that advances health care justice through sound health policies, devoid of politics. Although we can expound on the virtues of those policies, it is unfortunate - no, tragic - that our voice is muffled in the tainted arena of politics.

Conservatives frequently chastise progressives for accusing them of supporting mean-spirited policies. Well? Prove us wrong. You can do that by supporting the replacement of our inequitable, fragmented, dysfunctional system of financing health care with a single payer system that ensures equitable access and affordability for everyone, including our undocumented residents.