Lara Renews Call for Coverage for Undocumented Immigrants
Following President Obama's recent executive action on immigration, state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) has announced plans to reintroduce a bill (SB 1005) that would give undocumented California residents access to Medi-Cal and a dedicated insurance exchange with state-funded subsidies, the AP/Washington Times reports.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (Lin, AP/Washington Times, 11/30).
Background on Executive Action
On Nov. 20, Obama announced a plan to allow up to five million undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years and who have no record of felony offenses or serious misdemeanors to apply for a program to avoid deportation.
Under federal law, such undocumented immigrants still are not eligible for health benefits under the Affordable Care Act.
However, some advocates predict that California law will extend Medi-Cal benefits to immigrants who are affected by the executive action.
California Department of Health Care Services spokesperson Tony Cava said the department has not yet determined the effect Obama's executive action will have in California (California Healthline, 11/21).
Details of SB 1005
In May, the state Senate Appropriations Committee put SB 1005 on hold (Gorn, California Healthline, 5/27). According to the AP/Times, the bill was stalled in the committee amid criticism of its annual $1.3 billion cost (AP/Washington Times, 11/30).
However, in light of the recent executive action on immigration, previous cost estimates are no longer valid because the number of undocumented immigrants is expected to drop, according to KQED's "State of Health" (Aliferis, "State of Health," KQED, 12/1).
Lara To Reintroduce Bill
Lara said he plans to reintroduce the measure on Monday when the state Legislature reconvenes, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports.
The measure would expand Medi-Cal and subsidized coverage to undocumented immigrants and would create an Office of New Americans to assist undocumented immigrants. The office would help undocumented immigrants:
- Apply for a driver's license;
- Connect with legal services and English classes; and
- Apply for benefits made available under the executive action.
A spokesperson for Lara said the bill's new cost has not been determined because it has not yet been analyzed by legislative staff (Rosenhall, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 11/27).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.