Sacramento County reinstates health care for undocumented immigrants

The recession. It sucked. And it really sucked for the poorest of the poor, like undocumented immigrants.

Poor folks don't usually rub elbows with powerful interests, people who can have their backs at places like City Hall or the Capitol. In fact, they often get screwed over by the powers that be. And they seldom have journalists sharing these tales of injustice with the public, either. So, when times get tough, the poor are the easiest of easy targets.

Little surprise, this is what happened in Sacramento County in 2009, when supervisors voted to cut health care for undocumented immigrants.

The rub is that the county only saved about $3 million a year by making this move. And, as we now know, the savings were voided by all the associated costs that stem from citizens not having health coverage.

Yet denying immigrants care continued. As of last year, Sacramento was the largest metropolitan area in California to deny health services to undocumenteds (see “No health care for all,” by Sasha Abramsky; SN&R Feature Story; June 19, 2014; at But last week things changed. Supervisors Phil Serna and Patrick Kennedy worked hard over the past six months, and supervisors unanimously voted to reinstate health care.

This means that the county will spend $6.6 million to provide health services to 3,000 immigrants, beginning next year. More than $1 million of this will come from local hospitals and doctors. Great news.

But … not great enough.

There remain still tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in Sacramento that will still be without care. I'm looking forward to continued effort from Serna and Kennedy to fill that gap. That said, these two have elevated the county's priorities.

To your health, sirs, you are appreciated.