California senator proposes Obamacare for illegal immigrants
January 13, 2014
California should grant immigrants who enter the country illegally access to state-sponsored health insurance, the head of the Legislature’s Latino caucus announced Friday. [LA Times]
Democratic Sen. Ricardo Lara said he plans to introduce a bill similar to the Affordable Care Act that would provide health insurance to illegal immigrants. Lara said immigration status should be irrelevant if the goal of the federal law is to provide coverage for the uninsured.
“Immigration status shouldn’t bar individuals from health coverage, especially since their taxes contribute to the growth of our economy,” Lara said.
Federal law currently prohibits individuals who enter the country illegally from obtaining coverage through Covered California, the state exchange created under the Affordable Care Act. Yet, Lara and his backers are considering creating a program within Covered California that would insure undocumented immigrants.
They are also considering alternatives, such as expanding Medi-Cal coverage.
An estimated 2.6 million illegal immigrants live in California, about 1 million of whom are uninsured.
Republican assemblyman and gubernatorial candidate, Tim Donnelly, said Lara is trading on the plight of people ineligible to receive health benefits.
“California cannot afford to create another incentive to attract people to come to our state illegally in pursuit of taxpayer-subsidized benefits,” Donnelly said.