Democratic California politicians hope to be the first state to offer government-funded health care to undocumented immigrants.
According to The Washington Post, Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom is planning to spend about $98 million a year to cover young, undocumented, low-income immigrants between the ages of 19 and 25 and elders that are 65 and older.
There’s an even bigger bill that would give healthcare coverage to every undocumented immigrant in California over the age of 19 – but it would cost $3.4 billion and Newsom doesn’t want to go that far.
Senator Maria Elana Durazo sponsored the bill. She said California has a $21.5 billion budget surplus so the bill to cover everyone is doable.
The budget proposals will be finalized this week before being sent to Newsom.
According to reporting by The Washington Post, there are 3 million people in California who don’t have health insurance and 1.8 million of the uninsured are undocumented. Of the 1.8 million, 1.26 million have incomes low enough to qualify for the Medi-Cal program.
Currently, in the United States, many immigrants who are undocumented are enrolled for some government-funded programs, but they only cover emergencies and pregnancies.
When undocumented people are getting sick, they have nowhere to go and no way to get treatment for diseases like cancer. Undocumented immigrants tend to work in low-income jobs that don’t offer employer-sponsored coverage and with their low incomes, can’t afford private coverage.
“Symbolically, this is quite significant. This would be establishing California as a counter to federal policies, both around health care and immigration,” Larry Levitt, senior vice president for health reform at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told The Washington Post.
California’s legislation, if passed, is on course to crash with the Trump administration, which announced last week that it wants to make it harder for undocumented immigrants that rely on government assistance programs to have their residency applications accepted.