By Randall Higgins |Staff Writer|
The Sun reports that thousands of legal residents are having to struggle to access health care through
California’s Medi-Cal program, while the senate passed a bill allowing undocumented Californians to buy health insurance with their own money through the state’s Covered California exchange.
A version of Senate Bill 4 by Democratic Sen. of Bell Gardens Ricardo Lara, passed through the Senate as the first bill aimed at expanding health care for undocumented immigrants, if the federal government gives the state a waiver.
“We are here today trying to address this critical issue that is vital to the success of our California:… providing care to our undocumented community,” said Lara to colleagues before the vote. “The time has come for us to lead.”
SB 4 originally was a health bill for all that would have allowed all undocumented immigrants to enroll in Medi-Cal; that original bill would have cost taxpayers $175 million to $740 million every year according to The Sun.
“The exact cost of the amended SB 4 won’t be known until an upcoming fiscal analysis is released shortly,” said Lara spokesman Jesse Melgar.
The bill now heads to the Assembly Rules Committee, which is expected to send it to the Assembly Health and Appropriations committees. If it clears the Legislature, the measure goes to Brown, who could veto it, according to The San Bernardino Sun.
“Many of the immigrants legally seek treatment in hospital emergency rooms, currently the undocumented immigrants cost taxpayers $1.4 billion,” said Lara, according to Tracy Seipel, Bay Area News Group and Jessica Calefati of The Sun.