State Update

California May Expand Health Coverage to all Residents

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S.B. 1005, the Health for All Act, sponsored by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-CA), along with 16 co-sponsors, would use California state funds to expand eligibility in Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid program) to those who meet financial requirements of less than $15,000 per year but cannot obtain insurance because of their legal status. Additionally, the bill would create a new health exchange where undocumented immigrants can purchase coverage. The bill also would require the governing board of the new exchange to provide premium subsidies and cost-sharing reductions to eligible individuals that are the same as the premium assistance and cost-sharing reductions the individuals would have received through the current exchange.

Sen. Lara has stated that he balances the expense of expanding health care to all residents, regardless of their legal status, against the approximately $1.4 billion spent on emergency services each year for those who are not covered and do not have legal status. Of the estimated 2.3 million undocumented persons in California, some one million are without coverage. The estimated annual tax contributions of undocumented immigrants in California is $2.7 billion and 92% of this population live in working families, according to Sen. Lara. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Health for consideration.