#CoveredCA Releases Draft of 1332 Waiver to Open Itself to All Californians, Regardless of Immigration Status

Covered California recently released for public comment a draft of a federal waiver application to allow all Californians to access the state health insurance marketplace, regardless of immigration status. Earlier this year, Governor Brown signed the bipartisan-backed SB 10 (Lara), which authorized the state to apply for a federal waiver that would allow undocumented immigrants to buy unsubsidized health coverage through Covered California. Currently, undocumented immigrants are barred from using the state marketplace under the Affordable Care Act even when using their own money and instead must go directly to a broker or health plan to purchase health insurance.

With this draft application, California is taking another small but important step toward a more inclusive and stronger health care system. This draft federal waiver application shows how opening up Covered California to serve all Californians would make our marketplace work better, while not having any costs or other negative impacts on affordability, benefits, or the federal or state deficit. This proposal is not just a benefit for working immigrant families to more easily sign up for coverage, but more Californians covered helps the health and financial vitality of the entire community. Beyond the important symbolism of inclusion, this waiver application details how this policy will provide a practical benefit for many California families with mixed immigration status, who will be able to buy coverage together easily, even if some family members are eligible for financial assistance and others are not.

Under “1332 waivers,” the federal government can allow states to change certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act, as long as the state can show it will meet the same goals of: number of people covered, affordability, comprehensiveness of coverage, and cost to the federal government. California would make history as one of the first states to use the 1332 waiver process under the ACA, and the first state to pursue such a waiver for this purpose.

A proposed/draft of version of the Covered California 1332 waiver can be found here.

California is moving quickly to submit the application to remove this counterproductive exclusion – and we need you to make your voice heard!

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Comments are accepted through September 5, 2016 by 4:30 pm PST.