California has become the first state to offer taxpayer-funded health benefits to young illegal immigrants.
Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law on July 9, implementing it into the state’s 2020 budget plan.
Officials expect the plan will cover about 90,000 people and cost $98 million to implement in its initial year, The Associated Press reported.
The new law will not cover all 19 to 25-year-olds, but only those with a low enough income to enroll in Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance program for low-income residents. California already provides government health care to illegal immigrants aged 18 and younger.
“Young people feel the crunch of the cost crisis acutely from high rents and student debt. Health care shouldn’t be one more worry,” said Newsom in May when he was advancing his healthcare proposal in Los Angeles.
The original plan pushed forward by the Democrats in the California Legislature would expand the coverage to even more adults. A bill sponsored by Senator Maria Elena Durazo calls for covering not only adults aged 19 to 25, but also seniors 65 and older for government-subsidized health care. Another state Assembly bill would go even further, seeking to cover all illegal immigrants above the age of 19.
Newsom rejected those proposals, suggesting that the estimated $3.4 billion cost of that plan was simply unrealistic.
“There’s 3.4 billion reasons why it is a challenge,” said the Democratic governor, reported Daily Mail.
That being said, Newsom and Democratic legislative leaders have vowed to further expand coverage to even more adult illegal immigrants in future years.
“Mark my words,” Newsom said to a crowd on supporters on July 1, reported The Associated Press. “We’re going to make progress next year and the year after on that. That’s what universal health care means. Everybody, not just some folks.”
Californian Republican lawmakers, who found themselves mostly left out of the negotiating process in the Democrats-dominated state legislature, expressed their concerns.
“We’re going to penalize the citizens of this state that have followed the rules, but we’re going to let somebody who has not followed the rules come in here and get the services for free,” said Republican state Senator Jeff Stone, according to CBS8. “I just think that’s wrong.”
“It is shocking to see Democrat Governor Newsom openly prioritizing illegal aliens at the expense of the needs of the American citizens who elected him in the first place,” wrote Tony Kvaric, the chairman for the Republican Party of San Diego county in a statement.
President Donald Trump has also publicly criticized California’s health care policy, calling the move “crazy.”
“The Democrats want to treat the illegals, with healthcare and with other things, better than they treat the citizens of our country,” Trump told the reporters on July 1. “If you look at what they’re doing in California, how they’re treating people, they don’t treat their people as well as they treat illegal immigrants. So at what point does it stop? ”
“It’s crazy what they’re doing. It’s crazy. And it’s mean, and it’s very unfair to our citizens,” said the President.