Senate Bill 4, known as the Health for All Act, passed in California’s Senate on Tuesday, 28-11, taking illegal immigrants residing in the Golden State one step closer to attaining health insurance coverage.
If SB 4 passes the next two stages in its quest for approval, it would allow for illegal aliens in California to purchase health insurance through Covered California, pending a federal waiver; allow for illegal alien children aged 19 and under to enroll in Medi-Cal, the state’s insurance program for the poor; and allow for a limited number of adults aged 19 and over to enroll in the Medi-Cal program as state funding is made available.
The bill still needs to make its way through the State Assembly before it heads to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. The bill was scaled down in order to aid with hits passage.
Introduced by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), SB 4 is estimated to cost taxpayers anywhere between $170 to $740 million annually–a figure Gov. Brown reportedlysuggests might be too expensive for his taste.
“The time has come for us to lead,” Sen. Lara said, according to the Sacramento Bee. He added:
We are talking about our friends, we are talking about our neighbors and our families who are denied basic health care in the richest state of this union… Ensuring that every child in California grows up healthy and with an opportunity to thrive and succeed is simply the right thing to do.
Although Sen. Lara touts the bill as being bipartisan, it only received the vote of two Republicans, Sen. Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) and Sen. Anthony Canella (R-Ceres). Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) was the only senator to abstain, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
Nguyen said even if the bill passes the necessary stages to become a law, it would be like providing someone with a car without an engine. “It’s wrong to enroll people into something they don’t have access to,” she reportedly said on the Senate floor.
With over 12 million members, the state’e Medi-Cal program is struggling to handle the requests it’s already been inundated with.
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