Panel OKs Bill To Cover Undocumented

The Senate Committee on Health yesterday approved a measure designed to provide preventive health care coverage to roughly one million undocumented Californians.

SB 1005 by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) would create the California Health Exchange Program for All Californians, which would be overseen by Covered California. The federally funded exchange is not allowed to cover the undocumented so state funds would be used for that portion of the population covered in the new exchange.

Just before the hearing, a throng of supporters rallied on the Capitol steps  and during yesterday’s hearing hundreds of people lined up to the microphone to support the “Health4All” campaign.

“We all know germs don’t discriminate,” said Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel), who expressed interest in co-authoring the bill. “This is a fundamental issue of human rights.”

Monning raised the big question about the bill, though — how to pay for it.

Even though the Committee on Health is strictly a policy committee, he said, cost still is the huge question mark for this bill, so he asked Lara what the price tag might be.

“We are waiting for that,” Lara said. Researchers are running a CalSIM model of possible costs.  Lara said he hoped to have  that data in hand before he initiated a “robust discussion” at the bill’s next stop, the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

The bill passed Senate Health on a 6-1 vote.

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