Dems Push for Obamacare for Illegal Aliens in California: ‘Health Care Is a Human Right’

By Penny Starr | September 15, 2016 | 10:28am EDT
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), surrounded by other Democratic lawmakers and immigration activists, spoke on Capitol Hill on Sept. 14, 2016. ( Starr)

( – Democrats said Wednesday that President Barack Obama should use a provision in the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, that gives him authority to issue a “waiver for state innovation” that would allow illegal aliens in the state to buy insurance from the state’s health insurance marketplace.

“It is truly unconscionable that our country, the richest in the world, does not reflect the fact that health care is a human right, and not a privilege,” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) said at the Capitol Hill press conference.

“Enrolling all Californians – no matter their immigration status – in comprehensive coverage is not only a more humanitarian approach, it’s also more cost effective to ensure people have access to preventive care and wellness programs, and receive treatment before their condition becomes more damaging and more costly,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said in her prepared remarks at the press conference.

“Everyone who works hard to build our country up, as so many immigrant families do, deserves access to quality and affordable health care,” Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) said at the press conference.

The lawmakers said the waiver would exempt illegal aliens from the legal status requirement on Obamacare health exchanges and it would only allow them to buy insurance through the Covered California Health Insurance Exchange and would provide subsidies, according to a press release distributed at the press conference.

“Plans sold under this program will be identical to plans currently sold through the exchange, and will not be subsidized with federal premium assistance or cost-sharing subsidies,” the press release said.

The waiver – allowed under section 1332 of the Obamacare law – is designed “to provide a way for states to pursue their own approaches to expand coverage, including alternatives that would represent a significant departure from the ACA’s standards and requirements,” a fact sheet distributed at the press conference said.

Aside from sending a letter to Obama pushing for the waiver approval, 37 Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell in support of the waiver.

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