Amid intense national debate about immigration, California is set to become the first state in the United States to offer full health care benefits to illegal immigrants.
Democratic members of the California State Legislature came to agreement Sunday that would allow low-income adults between the ages of 19-25 who are illegally living in the U.S. to receive full taxpayer-funded health care benefits through California’s Medicaid program.
Officials estimate that 90,000 adults living in California meet the qualifications set under the agreement, the Associated Press reported. The program is expected to cost taxpayers $98 million per year.
The plan would take effect in January 2020, the Sacramento Bee reported. It is part of the state’s proposed $213 billion budget, which the Legislature is expected to approve this week.
More from the AP:
The move is part of a larger effort to make sure everyone in California has health insurance. The proposal also makes California the first state in the country to help middle-income families pay their monthly health insurance premiums. It means 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.
While Democrats are celebrating the agreement as a victory, some Democratic lawmakers hoped to go further: providing full health care insurance to all illegal immigrant adults living in California.
However Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) opposed the proposal, according to the AP, because it would cost taxpayers $3.4 billion.
To partially fund the plan, lawmakers agreed to implement a new tax on Californians who don’t have health insurance, a revival of the individual mandate implemented by Obamacare that was gutted when President Donald Trump signed tax reform into law in 2017.
Republicans believe the program is unfair because it penalizes Californians living in the U.S. legally with a new tax while rewarding those who are in the U.S. illegally.