In June 2016, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill asking federal officials to allow undocumented residents to buy Covered California insurance, the L.A. Times reported. According to the New York Times, two provisions in the Affordable Care Act forbid undocumented residents from signing up for Obamacare.
“But advocates of California’s initiative argue that the plan should be approved under what is known as an ‘innovation waiver,’ which allows states to have provisions of the federal law modified, because no federal dollars will be used to fund the program,” the New York Times said.
Of course, there are people who support the proposal and those who do not.
Who Believes Undocumented Immigrants Are Entitled to Health Insurance?
The number of California counties that want to offer low-cost, government-run medical care to undocumented residents increased from 11 to 48 in 2015, per the L.A. Times.
Sen. Ricardo Lara, a Democrat who represents southeast Los Angeles, wrote the bill known as SB 10 and thanked Gov. Brown for “advancing justice.” He said, “Healthcare is a right, not a privilege …
Disallowing immigrants from purchasing care with their own money is both discriminatory and outdated.”
Marielena Hincapié, executive director for the National Immigration Law Center, believes everyone should have access to affordable healthcare because it will improve the health of the community.
Chona de Leon, chief operating officer at Eisner Pediatric and Family Medical Center in Los Angeles, said her clinic treats many uninsured families who refrain from seeing a doctor until they get so sick that they need to go to the emergency room.
“It ends up being more expensive for everybody,” de Leon told the New York Times.
Decreasing the number of emergency room visits would save California money, said Representative Zoe Lofgren of San Jose.
Since Gov. Brown signed a bill that allowed 170,000 illegal immigrants under age 19 to sign up for Medi-Cal, more families have been getting their children immunized and taking them to doctors for well-child visits.
“Republicans might rant and rave away, but this is the next logical thing to do if the state wants it,” Lofgren said.
According to the New York Times, several Republicans in the State Legislature voted to approve the measure, but there are Republicans who oppose it.
Who Believes Undocumented Immigrants Aren’t Entitled to Health Insurance?
Michael F. Cannon, the director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute, a think tank, told reporters that undocumented immigrants should be able to buy private insurance, but they shouldn’t be allowed to buy it from public exchanges, such as Covered California Insurance.
“You could easily imagine families with high medical expenses moving to California,” he said.
Forty-seven percent of state voters oppose SB 10 as well, according to a 2015 USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.
Opponents of such policies believe they encourage people to enter the country illegally, and that undocumented immigrants take resources from those who are here legally.
What Happens Next?
California is the first state to propose such a healthcare policy, and it could take several months for the federal government to make a decision, the New York Times said.