California to become first state to request waiver allowing undocumented residents to purchase health insurance through state exchange
SACRAMENTO, CA – California will become the first state in the country to request a waiver from the Obama Administration to allow undocumented residents the ability to purchase unsubsidized health insurance through Covered California, the state's exchange. Governor Jerry Brown signed today Senate Bill 10 authored by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) directing the Department the state to seek approval from the federal government to allow undocumented Californians to purchase their own health insurance through the Covered California Health Insurance Exchange. The legislation earned bipartisan support in both the Senate and Assembly and comes three weeks after California became the state with the largest immigrant population to provide full-scope health coverage to all low-income children, regardless of immigration status.
“Today we ask the Federal government to remove barriers to health insurance access that discriminates against some of our residents on the basis of their documentation status ,” said Senator Ricardo Lara. “The current policy disallowing immigrants from purchasing care with their own money is both discriminatory and outdated. I thank Governor Brown for his leadership!"
Millions of Californians have benefitted from health care reform through expanded Medi-Cal access and from coverage purchased through the Covered California exchange, however, the undocumented community has been excluded. Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act provides for “waivers for state innovation” which allow states to modify how they implement key elements of health reform, beginning in 2017. 1332 waivers provide a way for states to pursue their own approaches to expand coverage, including alternatives that would represent a significant departure from the ACA’s standards and requirements.
Since federal law prohibits undocumented Californians from even purchasing their own insurance through Covered California, SB 10 directs the state to apply for a 1332 waiver to allow Covered California to offer alternative insurance products through the exchange to undocumented individuals. Those products would still be required to meet the same requirements as plans currently offered through the exchange.
Countless organizations have backed the #Health4All movement to expand access to health care for all Californians, regardless of immigration status, of which the #Health4All waiver is a key part.