The Medi-Cal program, as it is called in California, would be extended to include roughly 2 million illegals currently living in the state. Specifically, Lara prepared the measure so that approximately a quarter-million illegal minors would be covered through one facet of the program while low-income illegal adults could receive the same benefits through a separate channel.
Those financially able to do so would be allowed to – with federal permission – purchase their own plan through California’s health insurance exchange.
“We are talking about our friends,” Lara said in defense of his proposal. “We are talking about our neighbors and our families who are denied basic healthcare in the richest state of this union.”
His optimistic analysis of the program, however, was challenged by several Senate Republicans.
“This bill would only add hundreds of thousands of patients to the rolls with no one to care for them,” warned State Sen. Jeff Stone.
Fellow GOP State Sen. Andy Vidak agreed, concluding that “the taxpayers are already paying high healthcare costs for undocumented [immigrants] when they show up in our emergency rooms.”
If approved, Lara’s plan would make California the first state in the nation to offer such healthcare benefits to illegals.
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BCN editor’s note: This article first appeared at Western Journalism.