KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Exclusion Of Illegal Immigrants Will Leave Many Californians Out Of Health Insurance System

"No matter what health care bill emerges from Congress, roughly one in six uninsured Californians will be excluded because they are not legal residents," Mercury News/California News Service reports. "The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a Washington-based group that advocates restricted immigration, estimates that U.S. taxpayers already spend $11 billion a year on health care for illegal immigrants, and that the cost would rise to $30 billion if they are offered the same subsidies as citizens in the health care bill. Such concerns have prompted some Democrats with a long record of supporting immigrant rights, including Obama, to go out of their way to point out that undocumented immigrants are not included in the current legislation."

But the move "means that a pool consisting of millions of potential customers who are typically younger and healthier than the general population will be kept out of the insurance exchanges." In addition, "Undocumented immigrants will continue to use emergency rooms, which cannot turn away patients based on their immigration status," which cost California hospitals an estimated $1.2 billion last year(Alvarez and Ahlgren, 11/29).

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