Bills to Expand Health Coverage for Immigrant Children and Improve Provider Directories Advance in Assembly

Author Details

David Dexter

Communications Coordinator

Organization: California Pan-Ethnic Health Network

Go to California Pan-Ethnic Health Network

The California Assembly Health Committee took another important step to increasing access to health coverage to all children in the state regardless of immigration status by passing Senator Ricardo Lara’s SB 4. The bill passed along party lines, with Democratic members in support and Republicans in opposition. The committee also passed one of CPEHN’s co-sponsored bills, SB 137 (Hernandez), which would enhance consumer protections by improving health plan’s provider directories. This important bill received bipartisan support.

The hearing began with Senator Lara explaining the benefits of his bill, which would expand access to full-scope Medi-Cal to all children regardless of immigration status and allow California to apply for a waiver through section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act allowing undocumented adults to purchase coverage through Covered California. He talked about the tremendous community support he’s received while working on Health for All legislation over the last two years.

Following the Senator’s introduction of his bill, there was a long line of advocates expressing their support for the legislation.

Later, members of the committee chimed in on the bill, with Republican Assemblymember Rocky Chavez taking the time to criticize one of his party’s presidential candidates, Donald Trump, who recently made offensive comments about immigrants. However, Assemblymember Chavez said he could not support the bill.

Assemblymember Jim Wood also spoke up in support of SB 4. As a health provider himself, he noted the importance of ensuring access to coverage and care for all residents.

The committee also heard Senator Ed Hernandez’s bill, SB 137, which is co-sponsored by CPEHN, Consumers Union, and Health Access. The bill would require regular updates so provider directories are accurate and people know what doctors and hospitals are in their network when they shop for coverage or seek care.

After Senator Hernandez’s introduction, Tam Ma from Health Access, Betsy Imholz from Consumers Union, and CPEHN’s Kimberly Chen testified on the importance of the bill’s improvements to provider directories.

As with SB 4 earlier in the day, a long line of advocates expressed support for SB 137.

After a short debate during which committee members from both parties expressed their support for the bill’s goals, SB 137 passed out of the committee with bipartisan support.

Both bills will now head to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. For more updates on these and other CPEHN-supported bills, please check back here on the blog or our Policy Center on our website.