California’s Illegal Immigrants Push for Comprehensive Insurance Coverage

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

November 15, 2013

When it comes to appeasing California’s illegal immigrants and their multiple, well-organized, well-funded lobbyists, nothing is ever enough.

In October, aliens scored a series of legislative victories that will allow them to get driver’s licenses, become lawyers and, thanks to the duplicitously named Trust Act, avoid deportation for all but those most grievous criminal offenses. Yet the ink was barely dry on Governor Jerry Brown’s signatures before a new push for another entitlement was up and running.

The California Endowment has initiated a statewide campaign to ensure that 1 million illegal aliens who would not qualify under the Affordable Care Act will nevertheless get health coverage. According to its website, The California Endowment is “a private, statewide health foundation with a mission to expand access to affordable, quality health care for under-served individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians.”

Daniel Zingale, California Endowment’s senior vice president, said:

The Affordable Care Act will take California a long way toward getting everyone covered, but it explicitly leaves out undocumented residents. We hope to prompt a discussion about how to change what is essentially a public health gap.

Federal immigration reform could be one path in closing that gap. In California, our Legislature and the governor have shown they're willing to get out ahead of the national curve. We're trying to get that conversation started.

Well, “federal immigration reform” is dead for the year, at least according to House Majority Leader John Boehner and House Whip Kevin McCarthy. And yes, California is “ahead of the national curve” when it comes to circumventing U.S. immigration laws to placate Latino voters at the expense of the state’s citizens.

The timing on advocating for illegal immigrants’ taxpayer-funded health insurance could not be worse. California’s Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones acknowledged that more than 1 million cancellation notices have been sent to residents as the Affordable Care Act began allowing individuals to buy insurance through exchanges.

California’s insurance crisis is so grave that Senator Dianne Feinstein, an ardent Obamacare supporter, has endorsed Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu’s bill to protect Americans whose policies have been ended. Feinstein said her office has received more than 30,000 calls, emails and letters from angry constituents. [“Obamacare Kills a Million Insurance Plans in California, Feinstein Bails,” by John Hayward, Human Events, November 13, 2013]

Taxpaying California families, already overburdened by illegal immigration’s staggering costs (estimated by the Federation for American Immigration Reform to have been $21.8 billion in 2009) and struggling to find affordable insurance, don’t have disposable income to fund health care for 1 million aliens.

The Obamacare controversy, as well as the growing numbers of Californians who have lost or will lose their insurance, should derail The California Endowment’s aggressive effort to insure aliens. But put the emphasis on “should,” because as Californians know too well, when it comes to illegal immigrant entitlements, anything can and often does happen.

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