The Use of Telehealth for Serving the Undocumented

a Landscape Assessment

An estimated 1.2 million Mexican citizens reside in California without legal documentation. Undocumented immigrants are prohibited from enrolling in the federal Affordable Care Act, including the Medicaid expansion. 

California’s Medi-Cal program only authorizes coverage for “citizens and certain lawfully present immigrants.”  This is of serious concern, not only from the social equity perspective, but these prohibitive policies also create serious public health challenges. The Center for Connected Health Policy has begun to address this issue by conducting a 10-month landscape assessment of the potential for the use of virtual telehealth technologies to connect health care providers in Mexico with undocumented individuals needing care in California.  

Under this grant from The California Endowment, CCHP partnered with Health Initiative of the Americas, (HIA), a program of UC School of Public Health, to assist in carrying out the information gathering and analysis.  HIA’s Executive Director Xochitl Castaneda worked with local organizations serving the needs of the Mexican population in California, and with each of the Mexican Consuls throughout the state. CCHP also utilized a team of consultants, BluePath Health Inc., to provide technical support in the design and implementation of the research tools, assessment of interest among Medi-Cal health plans and Covered California, and in the synthesis of the data gathering.

CCHP and its project partners framed the dimensions of the issue and gathered information that describes the degree of interest for utilizing telehealth to serve this population; identified and described the barriers to implementation; and offered promising models that incorporate telehealth technologies along with resource opportunities for achieving desired change.