CHS Faculty and Chair Steven Wallace co-authors Op-Ed in Sacramento Bee

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Despite last fall being marred by a faltering federal website, the Affordable Care Act closed its first official enrollment period with unexpectedly high numbers. As usual, California led the way: the state achieved more than 1.4 million sign-ups on its insurance exchange, nearly 1 in 6 of the nation’s total. An additional 1.9 million are newly enrolled in Medi-Cal.

California is now set to lead in another way: by closing the gap in coverage left when Congress decided to exclude undocumented immigrants from participating in either the insurance exchanges or the expansion of Medicaid benefits.

The exclusion was largely a matter of politics. The administration and Congress did not want health care to be mixed up with yet another contentious issue, immigration reform. Now, state Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, has proposed a “Health for All” bill (Senate Bill 1005) that aims to remedy the situation in California by making Medi-Cal available to undocumented residents and by creating an accessible option for private insurance coverage similar to the state exchange.

We hope that debates about the bill will leave aside the heated rhetoric of Washington and be guided by our research and report of the facts on the ground here in the Golden State.