Health care coverage for undocumented immigrants debated in California

A senator in California has suggested plans for a bill that would provide health care coverage for the nearly 3 million undocumented immigrants living in the Golden State. California has the largest number of undocumented immigrants of any state in the nation. Sen. Ricardo Lara is the Democratic senator who represents the areas of Long Beach and Southeast Los Angeles. His bill is called the Health For All Act, and it proposes to extend health care services to immigrants that are currently ineligible for coverage because of their undocumented status.

In California, undocumented immigrants are only provided with emergency and pregnancy services under California’s Department of Health Care services system, known as Medi-Cal. If Lara’s bill is passed, the state government would create an additional health care exchange for immigrants that would follow the same guidelines as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which currently prevents undocumented immigrants from earning coverage. Lara’s proposed health care exchange would be funded by the state of California, and would not use any federal funds.

Lara explained that this bill would improve the health of immigrants in California, as well as save the state money. His goal is to ensure that everyone in California has equal access to health care services so the health of the entire state can improve. Lara is also looking to reduce the amount of overcrowding in emergency rooms and to lower the overall costs of health care in California. In a press release Lara said, “Excluding people from access to care hurts the overall health of our communities, and does not reflect California values.”

California has already approved legislation that grants undocumented immigrants the opportunity to earn driver’s licenses, law licenses, and in-state tuition at public universities and community colleges.