The People’s Republic of California will start the new year by providing free health care to all illegal immigrants who are eligible for the state’s government-run health insurance program.
The state, which faces a $68 billion deficit in the coming fiscal year, has steadily expanded access to its Medi-Cal health insurance program for low-income residents, first allowing the children of illegal aliens to qualify for the taxpayer-funded program in 2015, then expanding it under Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom to cover undocumented adults aged 19 to 25, as well as those over 50.
California will become the first state to provide free health care to all qualified individuals, regardless of immigration status or age, on January 1.
In May, Democrats in the California Legislature welcomed the budget agreement reached by Newsom and state lawmakers that resulted in the current Medi-Cal expansion, which would provide full coverage to 700,000 illegal immigrants aged 26 to 49.
“This historic investment speaks to California’s commitment to health care as a human right,” state Sen. María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) said.
“This is a game-changer,” said Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles).“It’s one of the most important pieces of legislation that’s gonna go through this house because the ability to give health care means the ability to live life without pain.”
Some health-care analysts, however, are concerned that extending the program is risky given enormous state funding gaps and health-care shortages.
“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,” Sally Pipes, a health care policy expert and the president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, a California-based think tank, told The New York Post.
“Many on Medi-Cal are already having a hard time finding doctors to treat them because of low reimbursement rates these doctors receive from the government,” Pipes added. “If those on Medi-Cal can find a doctor, they are facing very long waits for care.”
Simon Hankinson, a border security and immigration expert with the Heritage Foundation, said on X that he expects the federal government to eventually bail out the program.
No surprise CA, despite budget deficit, will give illegal immigrants subsidized health care. The question is how and when they’ll get the federal taxpayer to bail them out. NY, IL, and MA want to know. https://t.co/omefOpt2f5 via @foreigndesknews
— Simon Hankinson (@WatchfulWaiter1) December 28, 2023
“No surprise [California], despite budget deficit, will give illegal immigrants subsidized health care,” Hankinson remarked. “The question is how and when they’ll get the federal taxpayer to bail them out. NY, IL, and MA want to know.”
The California Senate Republican Caucus has also condemned the plan’s expansion.
“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 caucus wrote in response to Newsom’s budget proposal last year.
The latest Medi-Cal expansion is estimated to cost at least $2.6 billion per year.
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