Gov. Brown signs bill that could help immigrants get access to health insurance

Under a bill signed Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown, California will become the first state to ask federal officials to allow immigrants here illegally to buy insurance through its state health exchange.

Immigrants here illegally can’t purchase coverage through the exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act. Under SB 10, the state will formally ask the federal government to allow such immigrants to buy insurance through Covered California, without cost to the state or federal government.

“The current policy disallowing immigrants from purchasing care with their own money is both discriminatory and outdated,” Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), who wrote the bill, said in a statement. “I thank Gov. Brown for advancing justice today.”

The new law is the latest immigrant-friendly policy recently passed in California. Over the last few years, immigrants here illegally have gained the ability to apply for professional licenses, such as for practicing law or medicine, and also for drivers licenses.

Opponents of these policies say they encourage illegal immigration and take away resources from those here legally. 

But immigrant advocates have praised California’s efforts, especially those around expanding healthcare.

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