UPDATE: Hoo-Boy. If you thought the immigration debate was ugly now, just wait...
I had read something about this a week or so ago but I didn't really think about the implications at the time.
Now that I've read it...I can't for the life of me figure out why it hasn't gotten more press. Perhaps because it hasn't actually become a law yet?
SAN MATEO, California— A landmark bill to extend subsidized health care to some 1.25 million undocumented immigrants in California — more than one third of whom are Asians and Pacific Islanders, passed the California Senate’s Health Committee on April 15.
Senate Bill 4, also known as the 2015 Health for All Act, sponsored by Sen. Ricardo Lara (Dem-Bell Gardens) passed 7-0, according to reports by the Orange County Register.
Capital Public Radio’s KXJZ News said the bill was supported unanimously by the committee’s Democratic members, Republican members of the same committee, however, abstained from the vote.
The bill is now up for funding by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The measure is part of a 10-bill legislative package that aims to expand health coverage , among other protections, to undocumented immigrants.
Among the details of the bill that would benefit the undocumented immigrants include Medi-Cal coverage and subsidized health coverage through a newly created insurance exchange. Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program.
If that request is denied, SB 4 directs the state to establish a mirror exchange to provide equivalent coverage options to undocumented individuals.
I find it noteworthy that all of the GOP members abstained rather than actually voting against the bill. I presume that's their way of trying to avoid being hammered by either side.
As for the "newly created" exchange, I'm a little confused because just a few paragraphs later it says...
And on April 7, Lara announced the expansion to health care coverage for all Californians, regardless of immigration status. He directed the Department of Health and Human Services to seek a waiver from the Federal government to allow undocumented immigrants the ability to buy health insurance from the state’s health care exchange , Covered California.
...The Affordable Care Act (ACA) specifically excluded undocumented immigrants from insurance coverage provided through the health care exchange (Covered California).
Wow. Just...wow. If I'm reading this correctly, it would not only allow undocumented immigrants to enroll via the ACA exchange, it would also allow them to receive
federal tax subsidies as well???
I can see blood vessels bursting all over the place even as I type this.
UPDATE: OK, thanks to mic08n64 in the comments for helping clarify the situation: Apparently any tax credits provided for by this law would be from the state (California), not the federal government:
And in December, legislation was proposed to extend state-subsidized health insurance to everyone, including those barred from getting covered through theAffordable Care Act. Federal dollars could not be used.
The push to offer health insurance to all Californians regardless of immigration status is the latest in a series of immigrant-friendly state policies. Undocumented immigrants here can obtain licenses to practice medicine, law or other professions, and, as of this month, they can apply for driver's licenses.
That helps explain some of the relatively muted response to date, although I'd still have expected more of a fuss made by now.