BERKELEY, Calif., June 4 Voters in California's
Alameda County passed a measure on Tuesday that is expected to
raise $100 million a year for health clinics for illegal
immigrants, who are excluded from state programs and the federal
Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
On May 23 a measure to include illegal immigrants in the
state's Medi-Cal program for the poor to residents who are
undocumented stalled in the state senate, and immigration reform
proposals have also stalled in U.S. Congress for the past year.
The measure extends a 0.5 percent sales tax to fund the
clinics to 2034 from 2019.
"Our elected officials, our constituents, and our health
authority see healthcare as a basic human right, to be provided
regardless of immigration status," Alex Briscoe, Director of the
Alameda County Health Care Services Agency, said.
About 7 percent of California's population - 2.6 million
people - are undocumented, and in 2012 the state spent more than
$600 million on emergency room and other health-related services
alone for people living in the state illegally.
Many of those who used the facilities in the past will now
be eligible for insurance under Obamacare or the Medi-Cal
program, leaving a potential funding gap for the clinics that
are already struggling to meet the needs of patients expected to
be increasingly those without documents or health insurance.
Alameda County, which includes the cities of Berkeley and
Oakland east of San Francisco, funds health care services for
about 50,000 undocumented residents at the clinics.
The measure passed by a nearly 3-to-1 margin with all
precincts reporting results early on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Jennifer Chaussee; Editing by Sharon Bernstein
and Louise Ireland)