California Lawmakers Agree to Expand Healthcare to Young Adults Illegally in the U.S.
California has taken a bold step in expanding health care to young adults who are in the U.S. illegally. The first state to do so, the budget approved by California lawmakers on June 13th would affect as many as 138,000 young adults in the state. Governor Newsom is expected to sign as the final step in the approval process.
How is California Expanding Health Care Coverage to Undocumented Immigrants?
The $215 billion state budget that California lawmakers approved includes an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, to include low income, undocumented immigrants that are 26 years old or younger. Medi-Cal was already available to low income, undocumented minors who were 18 or younger, but the expansion of that age cap is estimated to bring around 90,000 more individuals into the program. This would mean added program costs totaling around $98 million annually.
With the added costs associated with this historic expansion of health care, there are obvious concerns over whether the state can afford it. Governor Newsom remains confident in this budget stating that not only is it balanced, but will result in historic reserves for the state. To cover the costs of the changes to the Medi-Cal age cap on eligible undocumented immigrants, lawmakers are counting mostly on an individual mandate. The individual mandate is reminiscent of the national Obamacare law that was done away with by a Republican Congress during the tax code overhaul in 2017. Essentially, the individual mandate assesses a penalty on anyone who fails to buy insurance. Failure to purchase insurance will result in a penalty of $695 or 2% of household income, whichever is greater. The enforcement of the individual mandate is estimated to generate over $1 billion over three years.
Such a bold move has raised tensions among lawmakers. Republican members of the legislative committee tasked with negotiating the state’s budget voted against it deeming it unfair to provide health benefits to those not paying taxes while assessing a penalty on taxpayers legally in the U.S. for not buying health insurance. Those committee members supporting the budget assert that it is in line with California’s belief that health care is a fundamental right. The budget was approved by lawmakers just two days before the June 15th deadline. Failure to agree on a budget before midnight on June 15th would have resulted in lawmakers losing pay.
Advocating for Immigrants
California has proven progressive in its treatment of undocumented immigrants and legislation continues to reflect this. On a national level, however, immigration law is going through some difficult changes. If you are looking for answers regarding your rights and options as an immigrant, talk to us at Talamantes Immigration Law Firm, APC. We are here to provide you with the critical information you need and will advocate on your behalf. Contact us today.
Posted in: Immigration Law