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Study sees modest costs in healthcare for immigrants here illegally

Modest cost seen in expanding health coverage to people in the country illegally
Increased health of poor Californians could reduce costs down the road, study says

Extending healthcare to people in the country illegally would cost the state a modest amount more but would significantly improve health while potentially saving money for taxpayers down the road, according to a study released Wednesday.

The study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research estimates that the net increase in state spending would be equivalent to 2% of state Medi-Cal spending, or between $353 million and $369 million next year, while the net increase in spending would be up to $436 million in 2019.

Enrollment in Medi-Cal would increase by up to 730,000 people next year and up to 790,000 in four years.

“This brief finds that the proposed Medi-Cal expansion would involve new state spending, but the cost is modest in comparison to the impact on health and coverage, and the policy also produces savings,” the study concluded.

It cited the experience in Massachusetts where expanded Medicaid and private health insurance resulted in reduced preventable hospital admissions and lower death rates.

The study was cited by state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) as supportive of his legislation to expand state healthcare coverage to all poor, regardless of immigration status.

"This report is a game changer in the conversation about providing health insurance to undocumented Californians," Lara said. "For $353 million we can provide quality coverage to 700,000 people in California. That puts our vision of health for all, and giving every Californian the right to coverage, within realistic reach."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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