Published: Friday, May. 23, 2014 - 11:43 pm

A bill to extend subsidized health benefits to undocumented immigrants stalled in the state Senate on Friday, but it could be revived if its supporters identify a way to pay for the expansion.

Senate Bill 1005 aims to close a gap in the federal health care overhaul, which makes insurance plans available only to those in the country legally. Authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, the measure would open Medi-Cal to undocumented immigrants as well as create a marketplace for new plans.

California counties provide health care to undocumented immigrants, but the coverage varies greatly.

Health advocates contend the legislation is needed to fully achieve the promises of the federal Affordable Care Act in California. Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, and chairman of the upper house’s fiscal committee, described a “two-tiered” system that discriminates against millions of people that but “for lack of paperwork are Americans.”

He gave Lara the summer to develop a funding mechanism for the expansion. Lara said he respected the decision.

“Expanding health care for all Californians is not a question of if but ... a matter of when,” he said.