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Illegal immigrants should have health coverage, foundation says

Photo:  an undocumented citizen from Mexico is connected to a dialysis machine at the St. Joseph Hospital Renal Center in Orange where she receives dialysis three times a week. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times The California Endowment is launching a campaign to extend medical coverage to all uninsured state residents, including undocumented immigrants.

An estimated 3 million to 4 million Californians, or about 10% of the state’s population, could remain uninsured even after the national healthcare overhaul takes full effect in January.

According to a recent UC Berkeley report, about a quarter of those left uninsured will be undocumented immigrants, who are excluded from benefits under the Affordable Health Care Act.  Nearly three-quarters will be U.S. citizens or green-card holders, who already qualify for Medi-Cal but don't receive it, or who won't be able to afford the new subsidized policies.

The California Endowment, a private foundation that advocates for affordable healthcare, suggests that county-run Medicaid expansion programs called Low-Income Health Programs be retooled to provide insurance for this population.

If not everyone is covered, the result will be higher overall healthcare costs, the foundation said.

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-- Cindy Chang

Photo: An undocumented citizen from Mexico is connected to a dialysis machine at the St. Joseph Hospital Renal Center in Orange, where she receives dialysis three times a week. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

 
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