California seeking to enroll illegal immigrants in Obamacare
October 5, 2016
California’s state health care exchange has sent an application to the federal government seeking permission to sell insurance to illegal immigrants. The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, prohibits illegal immigrants from buying health insurance through state exchanges.
In June, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that directed Covered California to apply for a waiver that would allow illegal immigrants to access Obamacare. Peter Lee, the executive director of Covered California, submitted the waiver application on Sept. 30.
“If this waiver request is not granted, the decision will continue the current policy that restricts health coverage options for California’s undocumented immigrants to purchase coverage off the exchange,” the application sates. “This restriction on purchasing is a barrier for these residents who make a significant contribution to the economy, paying more than $3 billion a year in state and local taxes.”
Lee’s application goes on to state that “mixed-status families” are the ones most harmed by Obamacare’s existing ban on illegal immigrants. In mixed-status families, some members, often the children, are citizens or legal residents, while others are illegal immigrants. About 13 percent of school-aged children in California have a parent who is an undocumented immigrant, according to Covered California.
The state health exchange claims, if the waiver is granted, illegal immigrants would not be eligible for federal subsidies, and they would have to pay the full cost of coverage. A University of California Berkeley team estimates approximately 17,000 undocumented immigrants would get health coverage through the state exchange as a result of the waiver.
If the United State Department of Health and Human Services issues the waiver, California would become the first state to offer Obamacare to illegal immigrants.
Prior to the passage of Obamacare, President Barack Obama said in a 2009 address to a joint session of Congress that the legislation would not provide insurance to illegal immigrants.
“There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants,” Obama said. “This, too, is false. The reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.”
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) then shouted, “You lie!”
Obama responded, “That’s not true.”