California appears poised to become the first state to give taxpayer-funded health care to illegal immigrants as the state wraps up budget negotiations between Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Democrat-dominated legislature.
There are currently three separate proposals on the table.
Newsom has proposed giving health insurance to low-income illegal immigrants between the ages of 19 and 25. That plan will cost $98 million a year. California currently covers those under 19.
A counter-proposal in the state Assembly wants to cover every illegal immigrant over 19. That proposal would cost an estimated $3.4 billion, Fox News reported.
Newsom has even quailed at the Assembly proposal.
“There’s 3.4 billion reasons why it is a challenge,” he said at a media conference, according to The Daily Caller.
Then there is the proposal from state Sen. Maria Elana Durazo to cover adults ages 19 to 25, and those 65 and older. Durazo suggested that since the state has a $21.5 billion surplus, it might as well spend it on illegal immigrants.
“When we have, you know, a good budget, then what’s the reason for not addressing it?” she said, according to The Associated Press.
The proposals come as California is considering a law to mandate everyone buy health insurance or pay a fine. That combination was too much for Republican state Sen. Jeff Stone.
“We’re going to penalize the citizens of this state that have followed the rules, but we’re going to let somebody who has not followed the rules come in here and get the services for free. I just think that’s wrong,” he said.
Newsom’s plan — the least costly of the three — impacts more than just illegal immigrants. The governor wants to shift public health money from 35 mostly rural and smaller counties, Governing reported.
The state claims that health care for illegal immigrants will save everyone money.
“As the state takes on responsibility for providing health care to undocumented adults, counties’ costs and responsibilities on indigent health care are expected to decrease,” Jenny Nguyen, a budget analyst for the state’s finance department, said.
Whichever plan is adopted, it will be a major policy change in the nation, said one commentator.
“Symbolically, this is quite significant. This would be establishing California as a counter to federal policies, both around health care and immigration,” said Larry Levitt, senior vice president for health reform at the Kaiser Family Foundation, according to the AP.
At least one presidential candidate wants some version of the California model to go nationwide.
But California is not legislating in a vacuum. The Trump administration has recently proposed a rule to make it harder for all immigrants who receive public assistance to be granted residency, radio station KFBK reported.
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