California Lawmakers Press Governor Newsom for Health Care for Illegal Migrants: $2.6 Billion Price Tag

Healthcare for Illegal Immigrants

Two Democrat California lawmakers are pressing Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom to provide free health care to migrants who are in the United States illegally at a price tag of $2.6 Billion annually to taxpayers in the state.

This hand-out would be accomplished by making illegal migrants — like their citizen counterparts — eligible up to age 26 to qualify for Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program for low-income residents.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on “fiercely liberal” Los Angeles State Senator María Elena Durazo and California Assembly member Joaquin Arambula, who, “emboldened by the win of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden,” are pursuing their agenda:

[Durazo and Arambula] introduced a two-bill package earlier this month that would cover unauthorized senior immigrants first, and eventually the remainder of California’s undocumented immigrant population.

Newsom has long touted his goal of achieving universal health coverage in California and made campaign promises to work toward a single-payer health care system. But after nearly two years in office, Newsom’s ambitious health care agenda has been sidetracked by deadly wildfires and a widening homelessness crisis — as well as the COVID-19 pandemic — and he has not managed to dramatically expand coverage.

California currently covers about 200,000 unauthorized immigrant children and young adults, according to the state Department of Health Care Services. The state budgeted about $375 million to cover young adults ages 19 through 25 this fiscal year, but does not track spending for undocumented immigrant children, according to the state Department of Finance.

“It’s a national issue. Look at how all the national Democratic candidates raised their hands in front of the world to support covering undocumented immigrants in health insurance,” Durazo told California Healthline. “We want a clear commitment to finally do this, not just lip service.”

The Chronicle notes that the federal government does not allow Medicaid to cover illegal migrants, so California taxpayers would have to foot the estimated multimillion dollar annual cost.

The Chronicle trys to make the case that because Latinos and blacks are believed to be disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, they should be prioritized for health care coverage even if they are in the country illegally. They reported:

The lawmakers are using the two bills as a negotiating tactic. Arambula and advocates said they hope to win coverage for undocumented immigrants 65 and older next year, while developing a plan with Newsom to expand coverage to the entire population at some point during his governorship. Durazo said both bills are equally important and are intentionally being used to pressure the governor into action next year.

“This is our way to finally have a real conversation about what it’ll take to get everyone covered, given we’ll have federal partners with the Biden-Harris administration,” Orville Thomas, director of government affairs for the California Immigrant Policy Center, said in the Chronicle report.

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