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Farmworkers union gets taxpayer subsidy for healthcare plan

Farmworkers union gets taxpayer subsidy for healthcare plan
Lettuce pickers work in a field in the Imperial Valley. (Tim Tadder / Associated Press)

Taxpayers will continue subsidizing healthcare for the United Farm Workers union under legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday.

Brown and Democratic lawmakers have already supplied two years of funding; the measure signed by the governor will provide up to $3 million annually for an additional five years.

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Union officials said they need the money to backstop their insurance plan, which falls short of standards set by President Obama's healthcare law.

Without the financial support, they said, the state will be on the hook for even greater costs because farmworkers would end up on public healthcare.

But Brown's own Department of Finance questioned those estimates in an analysis this year, saying it was "unable to verify" them.

Finance officials also questioned the wisdom of subsidizing the union's healthcare.

"This proposal creates a new, ongoing program over which the state has no oversight," their analysis said.

The bill, SB 145, was sponsored by Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento). Brown's office declined to comment about the governor's decision.

"We are letting the governor's signature speak for itself," said Gareth Lacy, a spokesman.

Follow @chrismegerian for more updates from Sacramento.

For more political coverage, go to www.latimes.com/politics.

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