California became the first state on Monday to offer comprehensive health insurance to all undocumented immigrants, a plan expected to expand to roughly 700,000 residents living in the Golden State.
Free Insurance For Illegals, But Not For Struggling Taxpayers?
California Governor Gavin Newsom is ringing in the new year by overseeing a plan to dramatically expand his state’s Medicaid system, providing healthcare coverage to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants.
The update to the ambitious Medi-Cal program, which took effect January 1, 700,000 illegal California residents between 26 and 49 will receive free health insurance—an expansion anticipated to cost the state up to $3.1 billion per year.
Gov. Newsom also celebrated the massive expansion of Medi-Cal.
“In California, we believe everyone deserves access to quality, affordable health care coverage — regardless of income or immigration status,” Newsom’s office told ABC. “Through this expansion, we’re making sure families and communities across California are healthier, stronger, and able to get the care they need when they need it.”
Not everyone agrees that this huge expansion is a good idea.
“The expansion was a bad idea when the state’s coffers were flush. Now that California is struggling to make ends meet, using taxpayer money to cover non-citizens is simply irresponsible,” said Sally Pipes, CEO of the Pacific Research Institute think tank, according to Post.
When the program was first proposed two years ago, Governor Newsom touted it as “a transformative step towards strengthening the healthcare system for all Californians.” California has provided free insurance to illegal immigrants under the age of 26 since 2019, but those 26 and older were only allowed to receive emergency and pregnancy-related services.
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.
Newsom made the commitment when the state had the largest budget surplus in its history. But as the program kicks off this week, California faces a record $68 billion budget deficit, raising questions and concerns about the economic ramifications of the expansion.
The California Senate Republican Caucus also opposes the new program.
“The Governor proposes to spend an additional $2.2 billion General Fund annually to expand Medi-Cal eligibility to roughly 764,000 undocumented individuals ages 26 through 49, starting in 2024,” the legislative group wrote early this year. “This would be the final expansion of Medi-Cal to the undocumented population after recent expansions to roughly 203,000 undocumented children and young adults (age 25 and under) and 235,000 undocumented older adults (age 50 and above). Medi- Cal is already strained by serving 14.6 million Californians — more than a third of the state’s population. Adding 764,000 more individuals to the system will certainly exacerbate current provider access problems.”
The new medical coverage will set the state back an additional $3.1 billion per year in healthcare costs, and $1.2 billion in just the first six months, the Associated Press reported.
Former President Donald Trump has also blasted California over these ongoing expansions of free offerings to illegals.