The California state coffers are full due to many years of economic expansion in the state. Democratic Lawmakers in the state congress are proposing to spend up to 1 billion dollars to pay for healthcare for undocumented immigrants. This proposal was released on Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017. It has not worked its way through the Assembly and it would eventually need to be signed by Governor Jerry Brown.
Currently, there are legal residency requirements for California’s Medicaid program for anyone over the age of 19. Any resident, citizen or not is eligible for Medical if they are under 19 years of age. This expansion proposal comes in the form of a 4.3 billion dollar package proposed by San Francisco Democrat Phil Ting who heads up the budget committee in the state assembly.
Other members of his party also want to raise the tax credit for the working poor while providing afterschool childcare and preschool programs. In addition, they are looking to reduce college tuition and increase government funded scholarships. At the same time, this bill would commit 3.2 billion dollars to state reserves according to the Sacramento Bee.
The state has drastically lowered the total number and percentage of uninsured people in the state. Lawmakers were big proponents of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, up to 7 percent of the people in the state still do not have health insurance. Large numbers of those are undocumented immigrants who cannot qualify for federally subsidized health care. This bill aims to close that gap.
Most of the citizens in the state receive more than half of their healthcare costs subsidized by the federal government. Undocumented workers in the state would need to have 100% of their costs covered by the state government. This issue is not without contention in the state. Progressive activists have been fighting hard in Sacramento for the Legislature to make state-funded health care available for anyone living in the state- regardless of national origin.
There has been some opposition to the plan. HD Palmer, who works for the California Department of Finance was quoted saying that they would like to commit more money to reserves before embarking on such an ambitious spending program. Despite these concerns, the bill is likely to pass in the left wing California Legislature.