California is considering whether to extend Obamacare to one of the country's largest uncovered groups.
State Sen. Ricardo Lara, a Democrat, is proposing legislation that would offer inexpensive health insurance to undocumented immigrants through a state version of the Affordable Care Act, the local press report.
“Immigration status shouldn't bar individuals from health coverage, especially since their taxes contribute to the growth of our economy,” Lara said last week in a press release, according to Fox News Latino.
Some 2.6 million undocumented immigrants live in California, though perhaps only 1 million will lack access to insurance after the implementation of Obamacare due to their immigration status, according to the Los Angeles Times. Many undocumented immigrants obtain insurance through their employers.
Congress excluded undocumented immigrants from coverage under the Affordable Care Act. But withholding affordable insurance from the undocumented will not keep them from seeking care, as an article published by The Atlantic last month points out. Instead, hospitals will likely pick up the tab for visits from undocumented immigrants seeking emergency care.
The exclusion applied to beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program created by the Obama administration in 2012, which shields most undocumented immigrants brought to the country as minors from deportation for a renewable, two-year period. Beneficiaries of DACA may legally work and pay taxes.
The California legislature, which is controlled by Democrats in both houses, has become one of the most friendly toward undocumented immigrants in the country. The state legislature voted last year to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses, and passed the TRUST Act -- legislation limiting the state’s cooperation with federal requests to hold potentially immigrants found to be undocumented.