Democratic Sen. Ricardo Lara of California has proposed a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to buy health care plans from Covered California, the state's Obamacare exchange.
Immigrants living illegally in the U.S. are not eligible for Medicaid and are not allowed to buy Obamacare health plans from the federal marketplace or any state exchange.
According to a report in the Daily Beast,
Lara's bill would allow them to buy the plans, but they wouldn't get federal help to do it.
Critics of Lara's plan say that's a major drawback to the bill, because undocumented immigrants wouldn't be able to afford the plans without federal assistance.
A new California law takes effect in May that allows undocumented immigrant children benefits under Medi-Cal, California's version of Medicaid.
The bill would not allow Covered California to sell coverage to the undocumented immigrants. It would call on the federal government to exempt California from Obamacare's no-undocumented-immigrants rule.
Tim Josta, professor emeritus of law at the Washington and Lee University in Virginia, said that the right-wing media would be likely to attack the bill. "This would become a case of 'we told you so' that Obamacare would help undocumented workers," Jost said in the Daily Beast report.
Some believe that undocumented immigrants should not be allowed to receive benefits. Federation for American Immigration Reform spokesman Ira Mehlman said that if California is allowed to do it, other states would follow.
Private plans are already available to immigrants, but price "drives them away," insurance agent Alex Hernandez said in the Daily Beast report. Obamacare prices are similar.
Consumer advocacy group director Anthony Wright said although some can't afford the plans, thousands can. He called Lara's proposed bill, "a modest step forward."
One undocumented resident doesn't foresee a change in the near future. Maria Galvan told the Daily Beast that she uses home remedies or emergency room visits if she gets sick.
"Maybe someday the system will improve for us," she said.
Hillary Clinton said she supports allowing undocumented immigrants to have access to Obamacare, according to a CBS News report.
Clinton said it's "the right and moral thing to do for them."
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