Undocumented Immigrants Could Get Health Insurance In California

State law would allow immigrants here illegally to get Medicare payments or buy subsidized insurance

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Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

In this photo taken Thursday, March 25, 2010, Dr. Carlos Ruvalcaba, left, examines Paula Medrano, an undocumented immigrant, at the Clinica Sierra Vista Elm unit in Fresno, Calif.

California has fared better than most states in rolling out the new healthcare law. The state spent years gearing up for the launch of a new insurance exchange that has enrolled more than 625,000 people in health plans since the Affordable Care Act opened for business on Oct. 1, in addition to more than 1.2 million newly enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program.

But one group will be left out no matter how well state officials manage implementation of the ACA: undocumented immigrants, who are barred from accessing federal subsidies to buy insurance through the ACA, or enrolling in California’s Medicaid program, which is funded by state and federal funds.

A new bill proposed in the state senate this month aims to change that. Under legislation called the Health for All Act, undocumented immigrants could qualify for Medicaid coverage paid fully by the state. Those earning too much to qualify for Medicaid would be able to access an insurance exchange offering state-funded subsidies. The bill has been introduced by Democratic State Sen. Ricardo Lara.

An estimated 1 million undocumented immigrants in California are currently uninsured, and many receive health care through emergency rooms or low-cost or free clinics. But the new healthcare law will reduce federal payments to healthcare providers that provide uncompensated care to the uninsured. That’s because in theory, providers will need less compensation as more Americans get insurance through the law. But in states like California that have large undocumented populations, hospitals and clinics are worried they will not be able to make up for the lost funding.

“This is an issue that has been a concern at many clinics and non-profit hospitals and a whole host of other folks in the medical industry who feel that we’re going to have to be pro-active,” says Lara. “If we’re going to fully implement the ACA, the conversation has to include this vulnerable population.”

Coverage for undocumented immigrants was hotly contested in the debate that preceded passage of the ACA. The final law expressly forbids the use of federal funds to finance coverage for immigrants here illegally. But California has already begun offering other public services to undocumented immigrants, while federal immigration reform remains stalled in Congress. In 2013, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law allowing undocumented immigrants to receive state driver’s licenses. The state also allows those without legal status to receive state financial aid for college.

Healthcare coverage is just another step toward recognizing that undocumented immigrants play a vital role in the state economy, says Lara, whether they have legal status or not. “We understand that ensuring that they are incorporated into our society allows them to contribute more to our economy. California has led the way where the federal government continues to fail.” Lara says his bill already has 16 co-sponsors in the state senate.

22 comments
JudeO'Connor1
JudeO'Connor1

California leads the pack for crying poor mouth yet do NOTHING about the illegals draining their State of funds that could be better spent else ware. No on was ever turned away from an ER but you would think no one was treated.

armandocdll81
armandocdll81

And who exactly would foot the healthcare bill for unauthorized foreign nationals? This is what happens when a state allows itself to be infiltrated year after year by people who sneer at our laws. Enjoy your protracted drought, California. 

EnzyteBob
EnzyteBob

"Undocumented" is an insult to all immigrants who followed the law and came here LEGALLY, like my parents and grandparents. These "undocumented" aliens are nothing of the sort. They did not follow our laws - they came here ILLEGALLY. They are ILLEGAL ALIENS. Let's not mince words.

mulub00b
mulub00b

Dear Employees:

As the CEO of this organization, I have resigned myself to the fact that we have to make some changes. We're faced with a dismal economy that grows worse every month...astronomical levels of government spending, hundreds of thousands of new regulations from the Obama Administration, the specter of $5/gallon gas and the possibility of EPA regulations adding billions in new taxes to America's already strained business community.

To make matters worse, because we have over fifty employees, our small business is going to be saddled with enormous costs due to Obama's Affordable Care Act.  To compensate for these extra costs, our prices would have to increase significantly, but in today's gloomy economy, we cannot increase our prices.

I've decided that going forward, we are going to outsource and subcontract out a major part of our manufacturing so that we can reduce our headcount down to fifty employees. At that point we'll no longer be required to pay ridiculous fees for government run health care. 

So…who do I layoff?

I walked through our parking lots and found sixty "Obama 2012" bumper stickers on our employees' cars and have decided these folks will be the ones to let go. I can't think of a more fair way to approach this problem. They voted for this "change", and I'm going to give it  to them.

I will see the rest of you at the annual company picnic.

THE BOSS

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

"Healthcare coverage is just another step toward recognizing that undocumented immigrants play a vital role in the state economy, says Lara, whether they have legal status or not. “We understand that ensuring that they are incorporated into our society allows them to contribute more to our economy. California has led the way where the federal government continues to fail.”

It is widely recognized that our undocumented (illegal) immigrants do play a part in our economy.  But, one question I have never seen answered is whether they contribute more or burden us more.  Without any real substantiation my gut feeling is that they burden us more.

And, not to be too callous about this, I have to wonder exactly how California is leading the way when we already have a porous border with an estimated 12 million illegals in the entire country already.  What California is doing is enabling and encouraging illegal immigration as we offer medical coverage, state financial aid to college, other social services, drivers licenses and allowing illegals to march in protest in the city streets of Los Angeles flying the Mexican flag proudly.  When we allow illegals to enjoy the benefits of legal status in our country with no consequences to their illegality what possible reason is there to respect our current immigration laws? 

How is this leading the nation?

Senator Lara himself alludes to the "burden more" aspect I mentioned when he said this in the quote above, "We understand that ensuring that they are incorporated into our society allows them to contribute more to our economy."   The proper and legal way to accomplish that, Mr. Lara, would be to enforce our current immigration laws and not provide social services to illegals.

Just my humble opinion. 





AnneVincent
AnneVincent


The Democratic politicians in California are determined to encourage and foster illegal immigration, no matter the consequences to the California people. It is all about providing a steady stream of cheap labor for corporate agribusiness and other corporate enterprises. There is no concern for the decimation of the middle class in the state, and no concern for our tax supported infrastructure that has been totally usurped (to subsidize those inadequate wages for the cheap labor). The Democratic politicians have no concern for basic honesty and fairness for the people of California. Every possible underhanded measure has been used to continue to encourage and reward illegal immigration, and the Democratic party has literally spit on every single resident who is not an illegal resident or Latino in California. It is time for the unions in California, and their corrupt politicians to go. We can not pretend that this is the same party that used to represent the people of our state many decades ago. This party has morphed into a self-serving and corrupt force that is without conscience and without integrity.

GuoLiang
GuoLiang

And the dangers of excessive empathy rears its ugly head.

DeportCA
DeportCA

California is funding illegal's healthcare with our tax dollars. I can see an easy solution to this, a referendum to withhold our taxes, and a referendum banning the use of public tax money on any program that aides and abet illegal immigration. What most idiots in CA don't seem to understand is, by doing this, they are encouraging more human trafficking. It's so easy for them to look at one side of illegal immigration, and ignored the more serious one, human trafficking. If this bill passes, I will organize and petition to have a referendum to ban all public money from being used to fund programs that benefits the illegals. DEPORT CA FROM THE US NOW!

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

@armandocdll81

The answer to this question as it is for others like it is that the State of California will turn to businesses to fund it. 

California, as a result, is not known for its business friendly environment.  It's no wonder businesses continue to flee the state.  Texas, on the other hand.....

aztecian
aztecian

@AnneVincent dreamer...this not about lies.  it is about the people of california!  this is what they want.  texas wants something different, but in california the voters have spoken and their representatives are representing the will of the people. viva california!!!

aztecian
aztecian

@DeportCA health for all is the humane thing which benefits all.  you want people to mow your lawns, pick up your trash and pick your crops?  well you're going to have to contribute to the people's well being.  it is time the for some fairness.

charlie319
charlie319

How odd...  Where was that mindset during the Prop-187 issues?  The people voted for Prop 187...  What happened then?

lkim65
lkim65

@aztecian @AnneVincentNot hardly.  I am a California liberal but will not vote for this.  We have some of the highest taxes in the nation.  Our government is constantly crying about having no money, yet they want to use state funds to pay for this.  I am sick and tired of being nickled and dimed to death by our politicians.  Until their is true immigration reform and our laws are enforced, then ther is no way I would ever support something like this.

AnneVincent
AnneVincent

@aztecian @AnneVincentWait for the next election, and the elections after that. I do not believe that you will be so smug. If the tide doesn't turn for California than the state will undoubtedly become just like Mexico.....just as dirty, just as corrupt, and just as incompatible with decent quality of life for its people.

charlie319
charlie319

Rights come with responsibilities.  Illegal aliens have the right to a prompt and speedy repatriation. Much as they do in your Mexico.

charlie319
charlie319

I'd love to hear our President, or even our governors tell Enrique Pena Nieto, or the stooge du jour at "Los Pinos" to come and get his people and man up and provide them with jobs in their country, and take his 40+ consulates back to a number that addresses legitimate and legal interests as opposed to aiding, abetting and facilitating the federal crime industry that is illegal immigration.

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

@aztecian

Tell me, what fairness is there to those who immigrated legally?  What fairness is there to those who became US citizens legally?  Why even have an immigration system and immigration laws when there is no consequence for illegally entering the country?  How does enabling illegals by providing them with state sponsored health care and other social services securing our borders?

There is a legal way forward and one I support.  But burdening the legal citizens and business of this state is what is really unfair and something I cannot support.

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

@aztecian

There is a tremendous cost associated with ignoring the illegal immigration that is going on in the state and in the country. 

The intangible cost is to the security of our borders and the circumventing our current immigration laws. 

The tangible cost of who will pay for all this support to the illegal immigrant society will be shouldered by California businesses who already are burdened far too much.

aztecian
aztecian

@AnneVincent @aztecianyou are generalizing and way off.  california is strongest state and stands alone with many countries economically.  election after election has shown people the liberal way of thinking and the success it has brought this state.  it certainly didn't get here with the work of the winger banger or teatards.  think about who built this state!  this state will lead the country as it has done in so many ways from immigration to gun laws and the prosperity for all, not just the 1%.