In a stance to distance itself from President Trump’s administration, California is set to become the first state in the country to pay for tens of thousands of illegal immigrants to have full health benefits.
Under an agreement between Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democrats in the state legislature, low-income adults between the ages of 19 and 25 living in California illegally would be eligible for California’s Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal. The deal emerged as part of a broader $213 billion budget.
The plan would take effect in January 2020, the Sacramento Bee reported.
State officials have estimated the benefits would be available to about 90,000 low-income illegal immigrants at a cost of $98 million per year.
“While it’s not all we sought, it will provide a real tangible difference for people, especially for those around and below poverty and for middle income families who don’t get any help under the federal law,” Anthony Wright, executive director of advocacy group Health Access, said. Indeed, a family of four earning as much as six times the federal poverty level — or more than $150,000 a year — would be eligible to get about $100 a month from the government to help pay their monthly health insurance premiums.
To pay for part of it, the state agreed to start taxing people who don’t have health insurance. It’s a revival of the individual-mandate penalty that had been on the books nationwide under former President Barack Obama’s health-care law until Republicans in Congress eliminated it as part of the 2017 overhaul to the tax code.
The budget agreement still must be approved by the full state legislature; a vote is expected this week. State law requires lawmakers to enact a budget by midnight on June 15. If they don’t, lawmakers would lose their pay.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.