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Under New California Bill Illegal Immigrants Would Get Medi-Cal

Opposition to a new California bill that would make illegal immigrants eligible for Medi-Cal health insurance coverage rails on. Those furiously opposed to the measure, authored by Senator Ricardo Lara, a democrat from Bell Gardens, SB 4 (Senate Bill 4), say it’s nothing more than another example of liberal state legislators opening up California’s wallet, which is already cash strapped, to the world.

The bill (SB 4), as some have accused Lara, is an attempt for him to get a second bite at the apple, in reference to a similar bill he proposed last year. That measure stalled in the appropriations committee because of its unpopular $1.3 billion price tag.

But, this time out, Lara argues that his current bill is altered in ways that he believes will significantly reduce the previously estimated costs, now ranging from $175 million to $740 million, depending on whether President Barack Obama’s executive order giving nearly 5 million illegal immigrants protection against deportation takes effect.

Lara goes on to say, one of the key differences from the first bill he proposed, is that it would no longer require Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange established under the Affordable Care Act, to offer subsidized health care coverage for undocumented Californians through a separate exchange, thereby saving money.

In addition to expanding Medi-Cal to illegal immigrants, SB 4 would also allow illegal immigrants with higher income levels to use their own money to purchase an unsubsidized private health plan through Covered California. However, unlike traditional Medi-Cal costs, which are split between the state and federal government, California would be forced to pick up the entire tab, angering many residents and legislators opposing the controversial measure. The state also would need a waiver from the federal government to allow it to sell private plans on the exchange to illegal immigrants.

If the executive order is upheld in court, about 900,000 of California’s undocumented immigrants would become eligible for Medi-Cal without Senator Lara’s bill, according to the legislative fiscal analysis. And, if not, the bill’s proponents feel confident it will eventually become law. But, others believe it may not go beyond a legislative vote because, even if the Legislature passes it, the measure stands a good chance of being vetoed by the governor, who “is not particularly sympathetic” to adding permanent costs to the state budget.

Some of the bill’s louder critics claim it places another undue burden on state taxpayers already overwhelmed by the costs of illegal immigration. They stress a health care bill would certainly incentivize more illegal immigrants to come to California…and that’s something the Golden State doesn’t need at this point.

In the end, health insurance should be available to all those seeking it. So, whether you currently have coverage or are shopping for it, make sure you’re getting the best rate on health insurance in California. Why not get a free health insurance quote today?

What is your take on whether illegal immigrants should or shouldn’t get health insurance? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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