California Senate votes to let undocumented immigrants buy health insurance

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 02, 2015 2:56 PM

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The California Senate voted on Tuesday to allow unauthorized immigrants to buy health insurance on the state exchange created under the U.S. Affordable Care Act, said the bill's author, Senator Ricardo Lara.

The Senate voted 28-11 in favor of the measure, which will go to the Assembly and would require a federal waiver to allow such immigrants to buy health insurance on the exchange, said Jesse Melgar, a spokesman for Lara. They would not receive a subsidy to make that purchase, he said.

If the bill becomes law, California would become the first U.S. state to allow unauthorized immigrants to access health insurance from its exchange.

The measure would also expand medical coverage for California residents age 18 and younger who entered the country illegally, providing them full health insurance under the state's Medi-Cal program to supplement the emergency coverage needy children already receive regardless of immigration status, Melgar said.

The bill would allow unauthorized immigrants 19 and older who cannot afford coverage to sign up for a program that would eventually provide it to them, Melgar said. A state allocation to fund the program would be made at a later date, he said.

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"Today’s vote is a transformational and decisive step forward on the path to achieving health for all," Lara said in a statement.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Mohammad Zargham)