Lara introduces health care bill for undocumented immigrants

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State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach) introduced his bill Friday that would allow undocumented immigrants in California to qualify for free or subsidized health insurance. He said he still has not worked out how much his bill would cost, or how it would be funded.

The Affordable Care Act expressly bars people who are in the country illegally from receiving federal healthcare benefits.  SB 1005, titled the Health For All Act, would commit the state to subsidizing Medi-Cal coverage for poor undocumented immigrants. 

It would also set up a health insurance marketplace through which immigrants who earn too much to qualify for Medi-Cal could buy private insurance with the help of a state subsidy. The exchange would be run by Covered California, the exchange set up under the Affordable Care Act through which citizens and legal residents can buy federally subsidized insurance.  

"We’ve made enormous strides to reduce California’s uninsured population with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act," Lara told a news conference outside Clinica Oscar Romero in Boyle Heights. "But only when we include everyone can we truly have a healthy California. The cost of inaction is higher than any dollars spent on this proposal."

There are an estimated 2 to 2.5 million undocumented immigrants in California, and it’s estimated that about 1 million of them are uninsured.

Lara said his office is still working out the details of how his proposal would be funded, and how much it would cost taxpayers. 

The senator's staff said his bill has 16 co-sponsors, and is seeking more. A spokesman for Governor Jerry Brown refused to comment on whether Brown would support the bill.


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