Bill pushes health coverage for all undocumented residents

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Health care coverage for all California residents, regardless of immigration status, is a controversial proposal working its way through the state. (KFSN)

Health care coverage for all California residents, regardless of immigration status, is a controversial proposal working its way through the state.

The biggest force of local undocumented workers sweats away in the Central Valley's fields. A hard working group that would be eligible to buy health care under the state exchange, if Senate Bill 4 passes.

The bill's author, Ricardo Lara of Southern California, stopped in Fresno to rally support Wednesday. He's getting it from Efrain Botello, whose family works in the fields.

"They're not going to the doctor, they can't even go for a regular checkup, which is something everyone should be getting," Botello said.

Lara's campaign, 'Health for All' also calls for the state to provide coverage to all currently ineligible children. But SB4 would limit the number of adults covered, based on money available in the state's general fund. The state would also need permission from the federal government to allow undocumented adults coverage under the affordable care act, which specifically excludes them now. SB4 bans subsidized coverage for adults.

"It'll actually cost the state less to allow folks to access Medi-Cal than to pay for more emergency room services, which should just be for emergencies, not for a common cold, a cough," Lara said.

Lara says the state spends $1.2 billion annually on emergency room coverage for the undocumented. At $300-$500 million annually opponents say the plan is too costly and would simply add too many patients with no additional providers.

Botello feels the bill is not only fair, it's absolutely necessary.

"Just put yourself in our shoes," Botello said. "Like I said, I had family members that have cancer and they couldn't even get treatment for a serious condition like that. That's something that shouldn't be happening."

SB4 is currently working through the assembly.



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politicspoliticshealth watchimmigrationhealth carecaliforniaFresno
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