Establishing a system of subsidized health insurance for undocumented immigrants in California won conceptual approval late Wednesday from a state Senate committee, but its author acknowledged that he doesn't yet have an "appropriate funding mechanism."
The measure, Senate Bill 1005, would place the new system under control of Covered California, the state's provider of health insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act, and offer similar benefits.
California's estimated three million undocumented immigrants are now excluded from ACA coverage, which includes billions of dollars in federal subsidies, and covering them, as Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, envisions, would require many millions of dollars in underwriting funds, but no precise cost estimate has been made.
Lara believes that his proposed system could enroll about a million immigrants, and told the committee he has a team of academic experts working on the financing issue and hopes to have something in hand before his measure reaches the Senate floor.
The Senate Health Committee approved SB 1005 after hearing from dozens of immigrant rights and health care groups. The only opposition came from Californians for Population Stabilization, which opposes illegal immigration.
"California continues to lead where the federal government is failing to act. While we've made enormous strides to reduce California's uninsured population with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, we won't have a truly healthy state until everyone has access to quality, affordable coverage," Lara said in a statement after the committee action.
PHOTO: People who attended an Aug. 30. 2012 health fair in Sacramento, sponsored by the Mexican consul general, had their blood checked for cholesterol and glucose levels. The Sacramento Bee/Randy Pench.