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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," said 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," said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrants of Los Angeles (CHIRLA)
Published: Jan. 23, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 41