California Ready to Put $1B Where Its Mouth Is for Illegal Aliens?

California state capitol

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Hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens stand to wind up with better healthcare coverage than they could have dreamed of in their hometowns thanks to the California Legislature, no matter their citizenship.

Supporters of Sen. Ricardo Lara’s (D) Senate Bill 4 — the Health for All Act — that goes before the State Assembly in August say it is only right to allow illegal immigrants into the state’s healthcare system. But those who don’t like the idea see it as worse than the first slide down the proverbial slippery slope. They see this as culture-changing legislation.

"It's just one additional step that the California Legislature is trying to take to eliminate any legal distinction between illegal aliens and legal residents of California," Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which calls for restrictions on immigration, told Reuters.

Senate Bill 4 would allow undocumented Californians to buy health insurance with their own money through Covered California by seeking a waiver. All kids 19 and under would be able to enroll in Medi-Cal, regardless of immigration status. And it would expand healthcare access to adults 19 and over, regardless of immigration status, by establishing a capped enrollment program through Medi-Cal that will provide services as funding is made available.

If the more than 400,000 immigrants with just enough paperwork to get a driver’s license, thanks again to the California Legislature, are any indication, Cal MediConnect will soon be buried under a tidal wave of the same people signing up for Obamacare.

Cal MediConnect is a program to serve people that are eligible for both Medicare and Medi-Cal. Cal MediConnect is an all-in-one health plan that covers medical, prescription drugs, and long-term services.

This is scary too. Maybe even more people will look for healthcare than looked for a driver’s license. Lara said more than a million of the state’s undocumented residents lack access to affordable coverage in California. They could all be allowed into Cal MediConnect.

Lara might be sandbagging the enormity of the avalanche of immigrants who will swarm into the Obamacare system. Reuters reported that about 7 percent of California's population, or 2.6 million people, lack legal immigration status. In 2012, the state spent over $600 million on emergency room and other health-related services for people living in the state illegally.

As drastic as it seems, Senate Bill 4 is not even the first step toward allowing illegal immigrants to receive ACA coverage.