Senator Lara Proposes Expanding Access to Health Care for All, Regardless of Immigration Status

January 10, 2014

SACRAMENTO —Working in partnership with a broad and diverse statewide coalition, Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Huntington Park/Long Beach) who chairs the state’s Latino Legislative Caucus today announced plans to introduce legislation that will expand access to health care coverage for all Californians, regardless of immigration status.
 
“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,” said Lara. “Immigration status shouldn’t bar individuals from health coverage, especially since their taxes contribute to the growth of our economy.”
 
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) specifically excluded undocumented immigrants from insurance coverage provided through the health care exchange known as Covered California in the Golden State.  An estimated three to four million people in the state will remain uninsured in spite of ACA, and almost a million of those will be undocumented residents ineligible for coverage.  Access to preventive care keeps people healthier by providing regular check-ups and screenings, and early diagnosis of health problems ensures those problems can be treated before they become overly expensive.  By ensuring everyone has access to health care, we can improve the health of our entire community, limit the overcrowding of emergency rooms, and reduce the costs of healthcare in California.
 
“California is leading the way where our federal government is failing to act,” said Lara. “We made historic progress with the passage of AB 60 providing driver’s licenses to undocumented residents, AB 1024 which allows Dreamers who pass the bar exam to pursue a legal profession, and the Trust Act. Now it’s time to extend the most basic right of access to health care for everyone!”
 
A broad and diverse statewide coalition of organizations who agree that immigration status should not impede an individuals’ shot at quality, affordable coverage joined Senator Lara in supporting this bill:

"The Latino Coalition for a Healthy California applauds Sen. Lara's leadership and the commitment of the Latino Caucus to provide access to affordable health care for all Californians.  This vision is transformational.  Many who today are not eligible for coverage contribute greatly to the success of California's world class economy through their labor across all of our industrial sectors.  This is a huge step in the right direction." Xavier Morales, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California.
 
"We applaud Senator Ricardo Lara, Chair of the Latino Caucus, for his vision to ensure that immigrant families have access to healthcare. The Golden State is again leading the way." Angelica Salas, Executive Director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrants of Los Angeles (CHIRLA)"

“Across California, immigrants who are part of the fabric of our communities are unjustly cut out from many of the most basic health care services. It does not reflect our values, or serve the common good, to leave hundreds of thousands of workers, students, and family members without treatment for preventable ailments.  California is inaugurating a new era of immigrant inclusion with measures to reduce deportations, boost worker protections, and provide drivers licenses to all. The next common-sense step is to heal the injustice of exclusive health policies. It's time to invest in equitable access to health for all who are working hard to move the Golden State forward.”  Reshma Shamasunder, Executive Director of the California Immigrant Policy Center.
 
“While the Governor’s proposal provides some relief from the painful and hurtful cuts we’ve made to health care in the past years, we cannot continue to ignore that millions of Californians, including undocumented immigrants, are locked out of getting the health care coverage they need. We need to invest in health care for all Californians, regardless of where we were born.” Vanessa Cajina, Western Center on Law and Poverty.
 
"Even with the historic advances through the Affordable Care Act, California's state budget should ensure funding for a safety-net that survives and thrives for our few million remaining uninsured. Our health system is stronger when everyone is included. The Governor's budget last year took money from the county safety-net, but proposes nothing to care or cover California's remaining uninsured this year. The budget misses the opportunity to invest in prevention and primary care for all Californians, for a healthier community and lower costs in the long term." Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition.

We’re excited that Senator Lara and the Latino Caucus are prioritizing coverage for undocumented immigrants. California took a great step last year expanding Medi-Cal to recent lawful immigrants and Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals – now it’s time to finish the job.” Ellen Wu, Executive Director California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN).

Senator Ricardo Lara was elected in 2012 to represent the 33rd Senate District, which includes the cities and communities of Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Lakewood, Long Beach, Lynwood, Maywood, Paramount, Signal Hill, South Gate, South Los Angeles, Vernon, and Walnut Park. For more information please visit this link: http://www.senate.ca.gov/lara

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