California legislation could extend health insurance coverage to undocumented immigrants

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1 million undocumented immigrants could gain access to health insurance coverage

New legislation in California could make it possible for undocumented immigrants to receive health insurance coverage through the state’s Medicaid program and its insurance exchange. If successful, the legislation would expand coverage to an estimated 1 million immigrants that live in the state. The legislation is currently before the California Senate, where lawmakers are determining whether the initiative will be in the best interests of the state and its residents.

Many could gain access to the state’s Medicaid program

The legislation would make it possible for undocumented immigrants throughout the state to gain access to Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program. Previously, these people could not access the program because they lived in the state illegally. While the legislation would not make them legal citizens of the state, they would have the opportunity to receive health insurance coverage through Medi-Cal, which will allow them to receive the medical care they need.

State agency to seek waiver allowing undocumented immigrants to use the state’s insurance exchange

California Health InsuranceThe legislation will also task the California Health and Human Services Agency to petition the federal government for a waiver that will allow undocumented immigrants to enroll in the state’s health insurance exchange, called Covered California. The state-run exchange is meant to serve as a marketplace that can provide consumers with access to affordable health insurance coverage. Undocumented immigrants are barred from participating in such exchanges, however, as they are not legally living in the country. A waiver from the federal government may address this issue, allowing these people to access the health insurance marketplace and receive the coverage that they need. They may not be eligible for subsidies that make this coverage more affordable, however.

Lawmakers are uncertain of the financial implications of the legislation

Many state lawmakers have acknowledged that there must be reform when it comes to California’s immigration laws. Supporters of the legislation suggest that it is unfair to bar undocumented immigrants from accessing health insurance and the medical care they need. Others have expressed concern over the costs that the legislation would be associated with.

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