State Sen. Ricardo Lara, chairman of the state’s Latino Legislative Caucus, proposed legislation Friday that would expand health coverage for undocumented immigrants, who were specifically excluded from the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Lara, a Democrat who represents part of Long Beach, said immigration status shouldn’t bar people from coverage, especially since their taxes contribute to the growth of the economy.
“We’ve made enormous strides to reduce California’s uninsured population with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, but we won’t have a truly healthy state until everyone has access to quality, affordable coverage,” Lara said in a statement.
Between 3 million and 4 million people will remain uninsured despite the passage of health reform, and almost a million of those are undocumented residents, Lara said. Providing these people with coverage benefits all, he argues, because they will be healthier through regular checkups, screenings and early diagnosis, preventing pricey medical bills in taxpayer funded public hospitals and private facilities, typically in the emergency room.