California Legislature Considering Expanded Benefits For Illegal Immigrants

Date: April 08, 2015

One Measure Would Expand Healthcare Coverage

Lawmakers in Sacramento are deliberating over a package of ten bills that would extend several additional benefits to individuals in the United States illegally. One bill would make it easier for victims of certain crimes to apply for visas. Senate Bill 600 would require that all people, regardless of, “citizenship, primary language, or immigration status are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever.”

Senate Bill 4, introduced by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D), would expand healthcare benefits to illegal immigrants through the Medi-Cal program. Under the bill, California would petition the Federal government to be allowed to incorporate undocumented state residents into Covered California, the health insurance exchange the state set up under the terms of the Affordable Care Act. If refused by the feds, the state would then create a separate exchange explicitly for use by illegal immigrants. An estimated 1.5 million of the 1.8 million people in California illegally who currently lack health coverage could qualify for the program.


What Happens Next:

The bills still must go through a series of debates at the committee level before being brought to the main floors of the House and Senate for full debate. Their passage is not guaranteed, and some provisions of the bills have not yet been decided.



What It Means For Small Business:

Small business owners represent a multitude of opinions over issues related to immigration, and the proposals being debated in the state capitol would affect independent businesses in numerous and unique ways. However, the immigration proposals would come with a hefty price tag that has not yet been calculated, and funding mechanisms are still being established. A healthcare measure similar to SB4 that was considered last year had a projected price tag of $1.4 billion. Proponents of immigration reform suggest the current bills would be cheaper, and Sen. Lara called his proposal “a very measured approach that really gets to the crux of this issue without being overly burdensome to the state.”



Additional Reading:

Other news media outlets also covering the California immigration proposals include the Los Angeles Times and the AP.



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