State Senator Calls for Health Care for Undocumented Californian

State Senator Calls for Health Care for Undocumented Californians

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California State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) wants to use state money to expand access to health care coverage to all Californians, even if they are in the country illegally.  Senator Lara has introduced legislation (Senate Bill 1005) that would expand Medi-Cal eligibility to people making less than $15,000 a year who can't get coverage under the national Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Covered California because they do not have legal status in the United States.

There are an estimated two million immigrants without legal status here in California.   According to Lara, the state spends $1.4 billion annually on emergency services on the undocumented.  Lara says that "one out of ten workers in the state is undocumented.  Let's provide a system so  that they can pay in, they can opt into this program, so that we can lessen the burden on the state." Lara also says that "access to preventive care keeps people healthier by providing regular check-ups and screenings, and early diagnosis of health problems."  Again, he says, this will relieve some of the financial burden from the state.

Not everyone agrees that expanding Medi-Cal to undocumented immigrants is a good idea. State Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-33rd District) says the idea of giving "free health care to people who are in the country illegally is, I think,  just nuts." Donnelly says, "This is a bad idea, every which way you look at it."  He says he disagrees with the idea that this would improve public health overall, calling that argument "specious."

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