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Tags: california | free | medical | undocumented | migrants | healthcare | taxpayers

California Expands Free Health Coverage to Undocumented Immigrants

By    |   Saturday, 30 December 2023 11:29 AM EST

As California grapples with a looming $68 billion deficit in the upcoming fiscal year, the state is set to usher in the new year by extending free healthcare coverage to undocumented immigrants eligible for its government-operated health insurance initiative.

California has consistently broadened access to its Medi-Cal health insurance program for low-income residents. Initially, the program included undocumented children in 2015. Under the administration of Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom, it was later expanded to encompass undocumented adults aged 19 to 25 and those above 50, reported the New York Post.

Effective Jan. 1, California will become the inaugural state to grant free healthcare coverage to all qualifying individuals, irrespective of age or immigration status.

In May, Democrats in the California Legislature marked a budgetary milestone with Newsom and state lawmakers, leading to the latest expansion of Medi-Cal. This expansion is expected to provide complete coverage under the program to approximately 700,000 undocumented immigrants between the ages of 26 and 49.

State Sen. María Elena Durazo, D-Los Angeles, lauded the move, stating, "This historic investment speaks to California's commitment to healthcare as a human right."

Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, echoed the sentiment, describing it as a "game changer" and one of the Legislature's most pivotal pieces.

However, critics, including healthcare experts, express concerns about the wisdom of expansion amid unprecedented state revenue shortfalls and healthcare resource constraints.

Sally Pipes, a healthcare policy expert and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, a California-based think tank, criticized the move as irresponsible, particularly given existing challenges in finding doctors willing to treat Medi-Cal recipients due to low reimbursement rates.

Simon Hankinson, a border security and immigration expert affiliated with the Heritage Foundation, anticipates federal intervention to rescue the program. Hankinson remarked on X, "No surprise [California], 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."

The California Senate Republican Caucus joined the chorus of critics, cautioning that the Medi-Cal system, "already strained by serving 14.6 million Californians," will face intensified challenges accommodating an additional 764,000 individuals, potentially "exacerbating existing provider access problems."

The expansion of Medi-Cal comes with a price tag of $2.6 billion annually, raising questions about the financial sustainability of the program amid ongoing economic challenges.

Jim Thomas

Jim Thomas is a writer based in Indiana. He holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, a law degree from U.I.C. Law School, and has practiced law for more than 20 years.

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As California grapples with a looming $68 billion deficit in the upcoming fiscal year, the state is set to usher in the new year by extending free healthcare coverage to undocumented immigrants eligible for its government-operated health insurance initiative.
california, free, medical, undocumented, migrants, healthcare, taxpayers, medi-cal, insurance
388
2023-29-30
Saturday, 30 December 2023 11:29 AM
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