States continue to be forced to take action into their own hands as hopes for Comprehensive Immigration Reform wane in Congress: California’s “Health for All Act” would provide needed healthcare for undocumented immigrants.
While many of California’s residents took advantage of the state’s systems for offering health insurance through the Affordable Care Act[i] (“ACA”), the state’s undocumented immigrants are not eligible to participate. Since ACA took effect October 1st of 2013, more than 650,000 Californians signed up for insurance through the new law. Another 1.2 million of the state’s residents qualify to receive state Medicaid assistance; however this does not include any of the estimated 1 million undocumented residents who are ineligible for California Medicaid or ACA options. State Senator for California, Mr. Ricardo Lara[ii], does not think affordable healthcare should be withheld from undocumented residents of his state.
The Health for All Act proposes healthcare options for undocumented Californians.
The new bill, the Health for All Act, SB 1005,[iii] proposed by Senator Lara would give California’s undocumented immigrant residents the option to receive Medicare payments or to buy subsidized insurance plans if their income exceeded Medicare limits. According to Lara, “Healthcare coverage is just another step toward recognizing that undocumented immigrants play a vital role in the state economy, says Lara, whether they have legal status or not.[iv]” Medicaid payments paid pursuant to the Health for All Act would be fully funded by the State.
California is among the states working diligently to make life better for undocumented residents by offering select public services. For example, like Illinois[v], the California legislature voted to issue driver’s licenses to immigrants, allowing them to drive legally and without fear.[vi] Senator Lara, recognizing the part that every Californian plays, “whether they have legal status or not,[vii]” favors the inclusion of undocumented immigrants in society and the state’s economy.
The California law would benefit undocumented immigrants and healthcare providers.
Without access to affordable healthcare options, many of undocumented immigrants are limited to visiting hospital emergency rooms and low cost or free healthcare facilities. According to the reports[viii] covering the proposed California law, under ACA, healthcare providers receive less federal payments to compensate for care of the uninsured. In theory, if more Americans get insured through ACA, there will be fewer uninsured patients in need of care. The theory fails when you consider how many people are do not qualify for ACA coverage.
Undocumented immigrants are prohibited from participating in ACA exchanges and receiving Medicaid benefits funded by the federal government. Without healthcare options, this large part of the state population must visit free clinics and emergency rooms as uninsured residents. California’s Health for All Act could reduce the burden to the state’s healthcare providers to the uninsured. If the law passes, other states might work with similar legislation to help incorporate immigrants to the U.S. who otherwise wait for much needed Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
KiKi M. Mosley follows news and trends in law that matter to our large population of undocumented residents in the U.S. She can help people seeking legal status as well as people on a path to U.S. citizenship. Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues. For more information about the law firm, please tap/click here to visit the rest of the website, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter or Google Plus.
[iv] Time U.S.: Undocumented Immigrants Could Get Health Insurance In California. By Kate Pickert, Feb. 18, 2014.
[v] See KiKi M. Mosley blog article: Illinois is soon to issue Temporary Visitor Drivers Licenses to undocumented immigrants. Sept. 23, 2013.
[vi] Reuters: Illegal immigrants can get new driver’s licenses under new California law. By Sharon Bernstein, Oct. 4, 2013.
[vii] See Time article and quoting Senator Lara.
[viii] See Time article.