Calif. Senate Panel To Hear Bill for Undocumented Health Coverage
On Monday, the California Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to vote on a bill (SB 4) that would extend health care coverage to undocumented immigrants, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Seipel, San Jose Mercury News, 5/3).
Details of SB 4
Specifically, SB 4, by state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), would give undocumented immigrants access to:
- Medi-Cal coverage; and
- Health coverage through California's Health Benefit Exchange (SB 4, 4/28).
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
According to the Mercury News, the measure would extend Medi-Cal coverage to more than one million low-income, undocumented immigrants (San Jose Mercury News, 5/3).
A similar bill to SB 4 stalled in a legislative committee last session after lawmakers failed to find funding to cover its estimated $1.3 billion annual cost. The legislative package also does not include funding plans for the coverage expansion (California Healthline, 4/16).
However, Lara has said that the bill has been changed to reduce its cost (San Jose Mercury News, 5/3).
In mid-April, the state Senate Health Committee voted 7-0 to advance the measure (California Healthline, 4/16).
According to the Mercury News, supporters of SB 4 are confident the measure will advance and eventually become law.
Reshma Shamasunder, executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center, said, "Californians have shown themselves to be very supportive of the immigrant community," noting that the bill would be a "modest investment for a huge return."
However, opponents argue that the bill would increase the financial burden among California residents.
Joe Guzzardi, a spokesperson for Californians for Population Stabilization, said, "A health care bill would certainly incentivize more [undocumented] immigrants to come here," which would "put more strain on the state."
Meanwhile, Jack Citrin, a political science professor at UC-Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies said the measure, if passed, could end up being vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) (San Jose Mercury News, 5/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.