June 24, 2024
California to Give ‘Free’ Healthcare to 700,000 Illegals

California to Give ‘Free’ Healthcare to 700,000 Illegals

(Headline USA) More than 700,000 illegal immigrants living in California will gain access to “free” health care on Monday.

It will eventually cost the state about $3.1 billion per year.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and lawmakers agreed in 2022 to provide health care access to all low-income adults regardless of their immigration status through the state’s Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal.

California is the most populous state to guarantee such coverage, though Oregon began doing so in July.

Newsom called the expansion “a transformative step towards strengthening the health care system for all Californians” when he proposed the changes two years ago.

As the program kicks off next week, California faces a record $68 billion budget deficit, raising questions and concerns about the economic ramifications of the expansion.

“Regardless of what your position is on this, it doesn’t make sense for us to be adding to our deficit,” said Republican Sen. Roger Niello, the vice-chair of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee.

The update will be California’s largest health care expansion since the 2014 implementation of former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which allowed states to include adults who fall below 138% of the federal poverty level in their Medicaid programs.

California’s uninsured rate dropped from about 17% to 7%.

California first extended health care benefits to illegal children in 2015 and later added the benefits for young adults and people over the age of 50.

Now the last remaining group, illegals aged 26 to 49, will be eligible for the state’s Medicaid program.

The state doesn’t know exactly how many people will enroll through the expansion, but state officials said more than 700,000 illegals will gain full health coverage allowing them to access preventative care and other treatment. That’s larger than the entire Medicaid population of several states.

State officials estimated the expansion will cost $1.2 billion the first six months and $3.1 billion annually thereafter from the budget. Spending for the Medi-Cal program, which is now about $37 billion annually, is the second-largest expense in the California budget, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Earlier this month, the state Department of Finance sent a letter urging state agencies to cut costs in light of the deficit.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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