California Extends Health Benefits To Adult Undocumented Immigrants

July 11, 2019 by Dan McCue

When California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the state budget into law this week, he also extended health care coverage to low-income, undocumented young adults through the state’s Medicaid program.

Since 2016, California has allowed children under 18 to receive taxpayer-backed healthcare despite immigration status, but with the Democrat’s signature, California became the first state in the country to extend health care benefits to California residents 19-25 years of age regardless of their immigration status.

“If you believe in universal health care, you believe in universal health care,” Newsom said. “We are the most un-Trump state in America when it comes to health policy.”

Later, in a tweet, he added, “We’re fighting for healthcare for all. We’re demanding clean air and water. We’re defending reproductive freedom. And we’re protecting our vulnerable communities. No matter what Trump’s Administration does.”

The bill, introduced earlier this year, is estimated to cover about 90,000 low-income residents overall and comes with a roughly $98 million price tag.

The move comes as the Trump administration continues to ramp up its hard line crackdown on unauthorized immigrants, but a recent survey found it widely popular within the state.

The president himself attacked the plan when it was first proposed during the winter, calling it “crazy” and “unfair to our citizens.”

He also vowed to stop the state from following through on its plan, though he conceded, “We may need an election to stop it.”

The nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California found that almost two-thirds of state residents support providing coverage to young adults who are not legally authorized to live in the country.

According to the institute, California has more immigrants than any other state, and an estimated 14% of them are living in the state without legal status.

In 2017, the National Conference of State Legislatures found that in most states, illegal immigrants are not eligible for federal health insurance programs like Medicaid and Medicare, except in some cases, like medical emergencies and pregnancies.

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