Capitol Alert

Scaled-back immigrant health care bill advances to Senate floor

Akiko Aspillaga of San Francisco reads a poem as advocates for SB 4, a bill to provide health care to undocumented immigrants, rally at the Capitol on April 15, 2015.
Akiko Aspillaga of San Francisco reads a poem as advocates for SB 4, a bill to provide health care to undocumented immigrants, rally at the Capitol on April 15, 2015. The Sacramento Bee file

A scaled-back version of Senate Bill 4, the proposal to provide health coverage to Californians living in the country illegally, advanced to the Senate floor on Thursday after passing the Senate Appropriations Committee by a vote of 5-2.

Under the new version of the bill, undocumented immigrants would still be allowed to purchase insurance on the state’s health exchange, pending a federal waiver, but the expansion of Medi-Cal would be limited to children under the age of 19. Adults would only be made eligible for Medi-Cal coverage if additional funding is appropriated.

The amendments were intended to reduce the cost of the program, though author Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, provided no new estimates. Gov. Jerry Brown has expressed skepticism about SB 4 because of the expected price tag, which was as much as $740 million per year in its original incarnation.

“Providing quality health care to hundreds of thousands of children in California will be transformational,” Lara said. “This is truly historic.”

Also among the 219 bills that moved off the appropriations suspense file was SB 128, which would allow doctors to provide lethal drugs to terminally ill patients.

Alexei Koseff: (916) 321-5236, @akoseff

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