California Cuts 10K From Obamacare Rolls Over Immigration Problems

Sarah Hurtubise | Reporter

California is now canceling Obamacare coverage for over 10,000 people who failed to prove their citizenship or legal immigration status.

Only citizens and immigrants legally present in the U.S. are eligible for Obamacare benefits under the law, but state and federal exchanges have been working for months to verify the legal residency of last year’s batch of Obamacare sign-ups. California’s change comes almost a month after the Obama administration canceled policies for 115,000 people who bought coverage in one of the 36 states using HealthCare.gov, but were also unable to prove their legal residency.

In California, which boasts both the largest Obamacare enrollment of any state and the largest immigrant population, over 148,000 enrollees did not submit proof of their legal residency with their initial Obamacare application. Covered California, the state Obamacare exchange, has been attempting to chase down documentation since last month. 

The exchange said that 130,105 people successfully submitted proof of their legal status and eligibility for Obamacare. It’s still reviewing information for 7,629 people who submitted more documentation.

The exchange, however, will send the remaining 10,474 people who failed to submit any paperwork a “pre-termination notice” this week, and they will receive a final cancellation notice for their insurance from their health insurance plan.

“Our goal is to continue coverage for anyone who is lawfully present,” Covered California Director Peter Lee said in a statement. “We are hopeful that anyone receiving these notices will respond by providing appropriate documents so we can work with them to ensure their ongoing eligibility for health coverage.”

There’s been a fair amount of pushback against the federal government for terminating plans for customers who have failed to prove their eligibility, even six months after the last open enrollment period ended.

Some immigration groups have pushed back against the widespread cancellations, arguing that the federal government’s outreach efforts didn’t include enough languages. Others have argued that some illegal immigrants should be granted access to Obamacare exchanges and subsidies outright.

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