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Bill to Expand Access to Health Benefits to Illegal Immigrants Passes Senate Committee

by Cadee Condit Gray, published

SB 1005, a bill that would expand subsidized health care programs -- including access to Medi-Cal benefits -- to undocumented immigrants living in California, was approved by the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday, April 30, with a 6-1 vote. The lone dissenting vote came from state Senator Mike Morrell, a Republican from Rancho Cucamonga.

The Affordable Care Act (colloquially known as Obamacare) offers United States citizens the choice to purchase health insurance through government-run marketplaces. Currently, undocumented immigrants are excluded from the benefits of the ACA.

In response to the issue, Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) introduced SB 1005, which would give unlawful residents the ability to enroll in the Medi-Cal program or insurance offered through a separate new health benefit exchange.

“California is leading the way where our federal government is failing to act,” said Lara in a press release. “We made historic progress with the passage of AB 60 providing driver’s licenses to undocumented residents, AB 1024 which allows Dreamers who pass the bar exam to pursue a legal profession, and the Trust Act. Now it’s time to extend the most basic right of access to health care for everyone!”

SB 1005 would expand Medi-Cal to include undocumented immigrants with incomes under 138 percent of the poverty level -- $32,000 a year for a 4-person family. For undocumented immigrants above that income level, the state would create an insurance product marketplace similar to Covered California.

The bill would allow nearly 3 million Californians currently barred from benefiting from the ACA due to their immigration status to have greater access to health care.

Editor's note: IVN correspondent Cadee Gray reach out to Lara for comment on Wednesday. We will update the article once we have received a response.

Photo Credit: Senator Ricardo Lara’s office

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