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Miguel Santiago introduced the free tuition bill.
Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Bill That Adds Dependent Parents, Stepparents To Existing Insurance Signed By Governor

Numerous amendments limits AB 570 to roughly only 15,000 people

By Evan Symon, October 8, 2021 3:28 pm

A bill that allows adult children in California to add their dependent parents or stepparents to their health insurance policies was signed into law by Governor Newsom earlier this week.

Assembly Bill 570, authored by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), would specifically require health care service plans or policies active on or after January 1, 2023 to make dependent coverage available for parents and stepparents. AB 570, also known as the Parent Healthcare Act, would only apply to those parents who rely on their children for 50% support or more, as well as applying only to their children who have insurance through the individual market rather than employer.

Because of the number of discounted plans issued by the state and Medicare, and how they only apply to citizens, the bill primarily targets those who are not in the country legally who cannot get health insurance any other way.

Earlier versions of the bill had it being much more broader and covering more people. The first version would have potentially covered hundreds of thousands of Californians due to the broader parameters to be eligible and fewer restrictions. However, opposition from both Democrats and Republicans alike over the massive expansion, as well as increasing employer insurance premiums by as much as $800 million year, which brought on the ire of financial groups and the California Chamber of Commerce, forced Santiago to make numerous amendments.

According the the California Department of Insurance, the signed version on Friday would only cover around 15,000 adults and only cost employers between $12 million and $48 million per year.

Although still opposed by Republicans and some Assembly Democrats, AB 570 ultimately passed 30-9 in the Senate and 54-14 in the Assembly early last month. This led the way for Governor Newsom to sign the bill on Tuesday.

Praise, disapproval of AB 570

Since being signed, the bill has been praised by groups for the expansion of low-cost healthcare, immigrant groups who have fought to expand healthcare for non-citizens, as well as insurance commissioner Ricardo Lara, who noted that the covered families will no longer feel the tough financial pinch of not having healthcare for their parents.

Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara  (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

“Health insurance for young adults caring for dependent parents can be extremely costly if they become sick or lose their health coverage,” said Commissioner Lara. “The Parent Healthcare Act will save money for many California families, especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic when so many people have lost their jobs and access to health care is even more crucial.”

Assemblyman Santiago, the bill’s author, largely seconded Lara’s remarks, adding this week that “The signing of the Parent Healthcare Act will help more families care for their parents the way they cared for us. The law is a way to close that gap while also helping other adults who fall through the cracks. We all talk about increasing health care access, and here was a real easy way to do it.”

While celebrated by many, the bill had a fair share of detractors from both sides decry the signing. Some don’t approve of the bill’s signing due to its focus on assisting illegal immigrants and annual insurance payments still costing employers tens of millions a year.

“It’s not nearly as bad as where it was, but it’s still pretty bad,” said Raymond Logan, a San Diego lawyer who has dealt with cases of uninsured non-citizens. “This bill is still giving free health insurance to those not in this country legally. It’s asinine to think that that is a good idea.”

Those for greater coverage of the 3 million uninsured Californians, particularly those with no legal immigration status, also spoke against the signing for not going far enough.

“15,000 of 3 million,” said non-citizen immigration activist Carlos Fernandez to the Globe on Friday. “That’s one in two hundred. That’s barely anything. It was originally going to be something, but he just kept cutting it and cutting it and now it applies to almost no one. At this rate it will take decades to finally get everyone covered.”

AB 570 is expected to come into effect on January 1, 2023.

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