Under the proposed bill, people in the country illegally could get health coverage through a state funded program that would be linked to Covered California, or through a Medi-Cal expansion. Democratic Senator Ricardo Lara authored the bill. He says emergency rooms are the only health care option for many undocumented immigrants.
“That means we’re still going to have to deal with overburdensome emergency rooms that cost the state a lot of money and continue to threaten the health and safety of our constituencies.”
Lara says undocumented immigrants deserve equal access to programs their taxes help pay for.
Costs and other details are still being worked out, Lara says, but he plans to introduce the bill in the Senate Health Committee next week.
In 22 Northern California counties, some health insurance customers have only one choice of insurer in Covered California. We go to a rural community north of Quincy to find out what that's like.
Blue Shield of California stopped selling policies to individuals in 250 zip codes in 2014. The coverage area reduction is especially felt in Northern California, where consumers have few choices through Covered California.
Anthem Blue Cross, the largest insurer in Covered California's Northern California region, ended an out-of-state benefit for individual planholders this year. Blue Shield of California plans in the region also restrict care to within state lines.
The open enrollment period for Covered California began less than a month ago. But the pace of applications and enrollments has already exceeded last year.
California offers several services for both documented and undocumented immigrants. But fears about deportation deter many people from taking advantage of the benefits offered to them.