A few California lawmakers would like to offer illegal immigrants and those residents who don't qualify for Medi-Cal, a low cost health care.
The plan run by the county would offer an opportunity to see a doctor, avail tests and receive treatment before health problems could become serious. The funding for this program would come from $700 million savings tied up to Medi-cal expansion.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, agreed to this concept of improved health care being pushed for by labor and immigrant groups, "I think that people who are living in this country, working hard and pursuing (citizenship) ought to be able to care for themselves and their loved ones," he said.
Barbara Coe of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform, was against this proposal. "It will hurt law-abiding citizens by taking money from them to fund the health care of criminals," Coe said.
Funding for subsidized health care for immigrants who are living in or have entered the country illegally has long been a controversial subject, complicated by questions about who would fund it, competing spending priorities, future fiscal projections, and differing county-by-county needs, attitudes and demographics.
Gov. Jerry Brown has taken no public position on the issue, but his budget proposal does not contemplate such a move and the federal government would not subsidize it, said Toby Douglas, director of the state Department of Health Care Services.
A private health care foundation -California Endowment, is trying to shore up the plan by funding a multimillion dollar ad campaign which will include immigrants questioning their admission to health care. "Doesn't it make more sense to keep us all healthy, instead of treating us after we get sick?" the TV ad says.
If lawmakers ultimately agree to expand health care for immigrants, a key question is whether counties should be required to do so or simply offer fiscal incentives.
Hannah Punitha (IRDA Licence Number: 2710062)
Seattlepi.com, April 2013