State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach) introduced his bill on Friday which would permit undocumented immigrants in California to qualify for free or subsidized health insurance. Though he had not yet worked out the cost or how it could be funded.
The Affordable Care Act expressly bars illegal immigrants from receiving federal healthcare benefits. This new bill introduced by Lara, would commit the state to subsidizing Medi-Cal coverage for poor undocumented immigrants.
The bill would set up a health insurance marketplace where which immigrants who earned too much to qualify for Medi-Cal could buy private insurance with the help of a state subsidy. The exchange would be run by Covered California, the exchange set up under the Affordable Care Act through which citizens and legal residents could buy federally subsidized insurance.
"We've made enormous strides to reduce California's uninsured population with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act," Lara told a news conference outside Clinica Oscar Romero in Boyle Heights. "But only when we include everyone can we truly have a healthy California. The cost of inaction is higher than any dollars spent on this proposal."
There are an estimated 2 to 2.5 million undocumented immigrants in California, and it's estimated that about 1 million of them are uninsured.
Lara said his office is still working out the details of how his proposal would be funded, and how much it would cost taxpayers.
The senator's had 16 co-sponsors, and is looking for more. A spokesman for Governor Jerry Brown refused to comment on whether Brown would support the bill.
Adrian Florido, Feb 2014
Hannah Punitha (IRDA Licence Number: 2710062)