California lawmakers vote to offer health insurance to undocumented immigrants

California lawmakers vote to offer health insurance to undocumented immigrants
© Stefani Reynolds

The California State Assembly voted overwhelmingly this week to pass legislation that would allow adult undocumented immigrants to receive health insurance benefits.

According to The Associated Press, the state legislature passed the bill in a 44-11 vote Tuesday. The bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration. 

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Under the bill, California’s Medicaid program would extend its coverage to adults who would otherwise be eligible to receive benefits under the program but were unable to do so because of their immigration status under the existing law.

The bill states that current federal law “prohibits payment to a state for medical assistance furnished to an alien who is not lawfully admitted for permanent residence or otherwise permanently residing in the United States under color of law.”

If enacted, the measure would “extend eligibility for full-scope Medi-Cal benefits to individuals of all ages, if otherwise eligible for those benefits, but for their immigration status, and would delete provisions delaying eligibility and enrollment.”

The bill’s passage would make California the first state in the nation to provide adults who reside in the country illegally with health care that is funded by the government, according to NBC News.

The AP reported that the move to provide low-income undocumented immigrants with health care has been estimated to cost over $3 billion annually.

Many undocumented immigrants are enrolled in some government-funded programs that cover only emergencies and pregnancies, NBC News reported.