While President Obama and other Democrats in the nation’scapital have emphasized throughout the years that the PatientProtection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) does not offer coverageto undocumented immigrants,California Democrats are moving in the opposite direction.

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Democrats in Sacramento are pushing legislation that will allowundocumented residents of the Golden State to buy insurance throughCovered California, the state-run PPACA marketplace.

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Even if the law is approved, its effect is constrained by thefact that undocumented customers willnot be allowed to tap into the federal subsidies that 85 percent ofother marketplace customers take advantage of. A recent analysisdone by Covered California projected that 50,000 new customerswould enter the marketplace if the bill passes.

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Considering that undocumented immigrants typically have low ormoderate incomes, it appears unlikely that many of them would beable to afford the policies without subsidies. And it also suggeststhat it will be easier for Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, tosign.

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“The bill, at least in its current state, doesn’t have a largeprice tag, so it seems possible he’d approve it,” ShannonMcConville, a research associate at the Public Policy Institute ofCalifornia, told Kaiser Health News. “But you can never know forsure.”

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A more significant development, perhaps, was the recent approvalof a state law that will allow undocumented children to participatein Medi-Cal, the state Medicaid program.

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Passage of the proposed law would put the Obama administrationin an awkward political position, since the only concrete actionthe state law proposes is requesting that the federal governmentexempt California from the current ban on extending PPACA plans tothose who are not in the country legally.

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Obama has presided over more deportations than any president inU.S. history, but he has been pilloried by Republicans as being laxon the issue. For the administration to accept coverage forundocumented immigrants would vindicate Rep. Joe Wilson, R-SC, whocommitted an unprecedented breach of Congressional decorum duringObama’s 2010 State of the Union address by shouting, “You lie!”moments after Obama insisted that the PPACA would not cover thosewithout legal status.

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In the midst of a campaign driven largely by anti-immigrationpopulism, most notably from Donald Trump, it might seem obviousthat Democrats would stay away from any action that might brandthem as too generous to undocumented workers.

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But in fact, it’s not clear what action would be politicallywise. As much as anti-immigrant sentiment has been a boon to Trumpin the GOP primary, it also threatens to devastate the GOP’sattempts to gain ground among Latino voters, who constitute thefastest-growing segment of the U.S. electorate.

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