Capitol Alert

VIDEO: Jerry Brown sidesteps immigrant health care question

Gov. Jerry Brown speaks with business representatives about the drought in Sacramento on April 16, 2015.
Gov. Jerry Brown speaks with business representatives about the drought in Sacramento on April 16, 2015. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

Gov. Jerry Brown declined Thursday to specifically address a proposal to expand health care coverage to Californians in the country illegally.

But what he said about legislation, generally, could give the bill’s proponents pause.

“As you know, I don’t give answers, almost invariably, on bills that have not reached my desk,” Brown told reporters at the Capitol. “I will just say generally that there are a lot of ideas that often are memorialized into bills that, when you price them out, they exceed the available money.”

Brown added, “That is a thing ... I look into, and there’s a lot of risk to the budget, and so we’ll have to look at all the bills very carefully.”

Senate Bill 4, which passed its first Senate committee this week, would make undocumented immigrants eligible for Medi-Cal and seek a federal waiver allowing them to purchase unsubsidized health insurance on the state exchange.

Brown has signed several measures championed by immigrant activists, including allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. But he is also more fiscally conservative than many legislative Democrats.

Sen. Ricardo Lara, the Bell Gardens Democrat who introduced the health care measure, has said it will cost about $400 million to $800 million annually to expand Medi-Cal to about 1 million undocumented immigrants.

Call David Siders, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1215. Follow him on Twitter @davidsiders.

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