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California Legislature Kills Bill for Free Health Care for Adult Illegal Aliens

Ricardo Lara (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press
Newport Beach, CA

California Senate Bill 974, which would provide for “full-scope” Medi-Cal health benefits to all illegal aliens, died in the State Assembly after concerns about up to $3 billion in new costs.

“SB-974 Medi-Cal: Immigration Status: Adults” failed quietly in the Assembly’s Appropriation Committee on August 18, despite an effort to save part of the bill by reducing the cost of taxpayer coverage to $200 million by only covering adult illegal aliens 65 years and older.

After the Democrat-controlled California legislature passed “Health for All Kids” (SB 75) in 2016, which extended full Medi-Cal benefits to 200,000 illegal alien children under the age of 19, Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) promised that he would fight to expand coverage to all adults who would be eligible, regardless of their immigration status.

When Lara introduced SB 974 on April 2, he told Politico that despite President Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigration, California Democrats continue to believe that health care is a civil right for all residents. “California has never waited for the federal government, or for a political climate, to be able to take leadership on a whole host of issues,” he said.

Lara and other California Democrats had been claiming that there would be no added taxpayer burden from SB 974, because California is already paying for poor undocumented adult illegal aliens through emergency rooms across the state.

But the non-partisan California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) examination in May of the financial impacts of SB 974 revealed the cost for extending the coverage to full-scope Medi-Cal coverage for all eligible adult illegal aliens would be $4.74 billion — a $3 billion increase in the taxpayer burden above what is currently provided to illegal aliens through emergency rooms alone.

The LAO estimates do not include an analysis of the probability that illegal aliens from other U.S. states and foreign nations would relocate to California for free health care.

Lara is expected to introduce similar new legislation next year.

But Robin Hvidston, California State Coordinator for the the Remembrance Project, which opposes illegal immigration, stated in a press release regarding SB 974: “It was great to learn that this bill did not make it out of committee last week. The bill was held in committee, under submission. Our members were an active voice of opposition to the bill and had been contacting the committee as well as assembly members calling for the legislators to oppose this bill.”

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