California taxpayers will soon be footing the health care bill for older illegal immigrants as part of a recently approved state budget.
The budget deal will guarantee coverage for low-income, undocumented immigrants older than 50. The plan was initiated by Democrats, who’ve said they want to ensure everyone has health care insurance.
The coverage, set to take effect in 2022, will cost taxpayers $1.3 billion per year.
California state Sen. Jim Nielsen said he felt providing health care to those living in the country illegally was one of the most egregious parts of the bill, which Newsom was expected to sign by July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year.
“Individuals who are illegally in California now will receive [health] benefits equal to a citizen of California. All they had to do is just simply be here, and whether they were of legal status or not makes no difference,” Nielsen told The Epoch Times.
“I would argue that is at the expense of Californians who are legally here and have been here their whole life. Also, it inflates the budget considerably, and it becomes a part of the base budget, meaning the ongoing budget into the future. Every year, we have to build into the base expenditure, the extension of the people served.”
The funding comes on top of the millions California already spends each year to try to ensure that residents have insurance coverage. Despite this, nearly 3.2 million Californians will remain uninsured next year, making up 9.5 percent of the state, according to the University of California–Berkeley Labor Center.
Nearly 1.3 million illegal immigrants under 65 are among the uninsured population.
When asked about the implementation, a spokesperson from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office told The Epoch Times that the governor believes all California residents deserve to be healthy.
“Governor Newsom has made it clear that he supports health care for all, regardless of immigration status, and since taking office has advanced this goal while maintaining fiscal responsibility for future years,” the spokesperson said.
“Building on the state’s expansion of Medi-Cal coverage to all Californians up to age 26 and additional Covered California premium assistance to middle-income individuals, the governor in May proposed tackling the long-standing structural barriers in health care for low-income older undocumented persons as the state makes progress toward universal coverage.”
On top of giving aid to the undocumented, the budget will also eliminate the asset test when applying for Medicaid.
This test originally required 65-and-older residents to be low income in order to receive the free health care. Another requirement was that Medicaid recipients couldn’t have assets that exceeded $2,000 for a single person or $3,000 for a couple. These assets can include items like cash or some jewelry.
The removal of the asset test will enable 17,802 people to come into the Medicaid program and will cost $220 million per year, according to the Department of Health Care Services.