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Undocumented Immigrant Health Care Bill's Cost: $175 Million-$740 Million

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A bill that would provide health care for California’s 2.5 million undocumented immigrants now has a potential price tag -- between $175 million and $740 million.

The big concern over opening California’s health care system to the state’s 2.5 million undocumented immigrants has always been its price tag. Last year’s effort died mostly because of its $1.3 billion cost.

This year’s version comes in between $175 million and $740 million, according to the Senate Appropriations Committee – depending on how many immigrants enroll in Medi-Cal and whether President Obama’s executive order survives in court. That money is on top of the more than half a billion dollars it already costs the state to provide emergency and pregnancy care to undocumented immigrants, as Capital Public Radio's Pauline Bartolone has reported.

“So I think we’re headed in the right direction,” says the bill's author, Democratic Senator Ricardo Lara. “We’ve scaled this bill down significantly to continue to reduce the cost.”

Lara says he’s talking with Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration and hopes to get funding into the June state budget. The administration declined to offer its own cost estimate. It also declined comment on the bill, as did Senate Republicans.

The Senate Appropriations Committee set the proposal aside Monday on its Suspense File because of the measure's costs – but the bill is still alive and could be sent to the Senate floor later this month.


Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

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