WASHINGTON, DC, Sept. 14, 2016 – The California Congressional Delegation released a letter today calling on the Obama Administration to approve a waiver that would allow undocumented immigrants to purchase unsubsidized health insurance through Covered California, the state’s health benefits exchange. If approved, California would become the first state in the nation to allow individuals and families without legal immigration status to purchase care through the state’s health exchange.
The call for approval of what is known as The Innovation Waiver under Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act, resulted from passage of California Senate Bill 10 authored by California State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens). Known as the #Health4All Waiver, it was signed into state law by Governor Brown in June.
Because this waiver would expand access to comprehensive, affordable health care without subsidies, it would have no impact on the federal budget. The state’s formal waiver request will be transmitted from Covered California to the White House by the end of September.
Thirty seven members of the California Congressional delegation have signed onto the letter urging the White House to approve the state’s waiver request.
U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren (CA-19): “Enrolling all Californians – no matter their immigration status – in comprehensive coverage is not only a more humanitarian approach, it’s also more cost effective to ensure people have access to preventive care and wellness programs, and receive treatment before their condition becomes more damaging and more costly. Not only do individuals benefit from gaining access to care, but our entire state population benefits by becoming healthier as a result. I’m proud that California is once again leading the way, and urge the Administration to quickly approve this waiver.”
U.S. Representative Xavier Becerra (CA-34), Chair of the House Democratic Caucus: “Everyone who works hard to build our country up, as so many immigrant families do, deserves access to quality and affordable health care. This provision does not cost the federal government a dime and it’s a no-brainer to get this waiver approved.”
U.S. Representative Roybal-Allard (CA-40): “As the representative of California’s 40th Congressional District, with one of the largest immigrant and uninsured populations in the country, I urge the Obama Administration to approve the #Health4All Waiver. I commend my friend, Senator Lara, for championing this compassionate, responsible, and common-sense waiver. It is unconscionable that our country, the richest in the world, does not reflect the fact that health care is a human right and not a privilege. The truth is that when every individual in a community has access to routine immunizations, preventive health services, and early treatment of illness, we are healthier collectively as a state and a nation. Expanding health care access for California’s undocumented residents is the obvious choice, morally and ethically, and this waiver will do so at no cost to the federal government.”
U.S. Representative Judy Chu (CA-27): “Thanks to the historic Affordable Care Act (ACA), more Americans than ever before have access to healthcare. This means healthier families free of the worry that a sudden illness or accident could bankrupt them. But because of their status, hard-working and taxpaying immigrants are left out. This is not only immoral, it’s expensive. I’m proud of California for taking the initiative to ensure the promise of the ACA by including undocumented immigrants. The Administration should approve the waiver quickly so we can begin getting all our residents the basic care they deserve, instead of having to wait for it to become an emergency. Being undocumented should not mean being unworthy.”
U.S. Representative Norma Torres (CA-35): “The State of California is leading the way in expanding access to health care for all residents. We’ve recognized that making health care, particularly preventative care, more accessible and affordable, doesn’t just save lives, it saves money for all Californians. I applaud Senator Lara and the #Health4All campaign and hope the Obama administration will grant this waiver so that our state can move forward with this important work.”
State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens): “The #Health4All Waiver would expand access to comprehensive, affordable health care to undocumented Californians with zero impact on the federal or California state budgets. It abides by President Obama’s commitment that no federal dollars will be used for noncitizens in the Affordable Care Act. Allowing undocumented immigrants to pay into the system would only strengthen our exchange while improving the health of our communities. It’s in line with California’s leadership to further integrating our immigrant communities.”
Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director at the National Immigration Law Center: “In order to have truly healthy communities, all Californians – regardless of where they were born – should be able to get covered. California has taken a huge step toward creating truly healthy communities by asking the federal government to allow an immigrant-rich state to adopt an immigrant inclusive policy when it comes to health care. The government should approve this waiver request without delay.”
Cynthia Buiza, Executive Director of the California Immigrant Policy Center: “Strong Congressional Support for California’s common-sense request is a testament to our state’s powerful tradition of inclusion. Earlier this year, California broke new ground with Health4All Kids, an investment which expanded health care coverage to undocumented children. The California innovative 1332 waiver request follows in those footsteps and would amplify opportunities for people currently excluded from care. At the end of the day, all families should be able to sit down together and choose the health plans and providers that work best for them.”
Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California: “Our health system is stronger when everyone is included, when everyone has access to primary and preventive care, and has coverage to pay the doctors, hospitals and providers that we all rely on. Those with different views on immigration or health policy can still agree on the merits of encouraging coverage, which is why this proposal got a bipartisan supermajority in both legislative houses of the California legislature. This waiver proposal costs no money, and especially now that Covered California’s operations are fully self-sustaining without any federal subsidy, it’s time to allow our marketplace to align with our state’s policy and values on immigrant inclusion.”