California Senate OKs Health Care for Illegal Immigrants

Leah Barkoukis
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Posted: Jun 03, 2015 3:15 PM
California Senate OKs Health Care for Illegal Immigrants

Health care costs in California are already a huge problem for the state’s budget, but fiscal responsibility be damned, progressives in The Golden State want health care for illegal immigrants, too.

Breitbart reports:

Senate Bill 4, known as the Health for All Act, passed in California’s Senate on Tuesday, 28-11, taking illegal immigrants residing in the Golden State one step closer to attaining health insurance coverage.

If SB 4 passes the next two stages in its quest for approval, it would allow for illegal aliens in California to purchase health insurance through Covered California, pending a federal waiver; allow for illegal alien children aged 19 and under to enroll in Medi-Cal, the state’s insurance program for the poor; and allow for a limited number of adults aged 19 and over to enroll in the Medi-Cal program as state funding is made available. […]

SB 4 is estimated to cost taxpayers anywhere between $170 to $740 million annually–a figure Gov. Brown reportedly suggests might be too expensive for his taste.

“The time has come for us to lead,” said Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), who introduced the legislation. “We are talking about our friends, we are talking about our neighbors and our families who are denied basic health care in the richest state of this union… Ensuring that every child in California grows up healthy and with an opportunity to thrive and succeed is simply the right thing to do.”

But as the Breitbart article notes, even Gov. Brown has suggested it may not be realistic. Though he declined to give a specific answer when asked about the proposal because the bill hasn’t reached his desk, he did say that “there are a lot of ideas that often are memorialized into bills that, when you price them out, they exceed the available money.”

He continued: “That is a thing ... I look into, and there’s a lot of risk to the budget, and so we’ll have to look at all the bills very carefully.”

And on top of that, with lower reimbursement rates doctors may not be able to even accept new patients.

The debate frequently turned to other intersecting issues, including Medi-Cal reimbursement rates. An effort to reverse a 10 percent cut to the payments from 2011 has been front and center at the Capitol during final budget negotiations, with many lawmakers arguing that doctors simply cannot afford to accept new Medi-Cal patients.

“If this bill were to be signed into law, it would only serve to exacerbate the problem and not fix it,” said Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula. “This bill would only add hundreds of thousands of more patients to the roll with no one to care for them.”

The bill, however, must still make its way through the State Assembly before landing on Gov. Brown’s desk.