John Bacon, USA Today, June 10, 2019
California was poised Monday to become the first state to provide health care coverage to young, low-income adults living in the country illegally after legislative leaders provided a thumbs-up to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $98 million plan targeting almost 100,000 low-income adults.
The full Legislature still must sign off on the plan that would make such immigrants ages 19 to 25 eligible for Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program. The deal was a win for Newsom, who rejected as too expensive a state Senate plan to include adults 65 and older living in the state illegally.
The California Immigrant Policy Center called the program a “clear step forward” but lamented the decision to block the elderly from the plan.
Anthony Wright, executive director of the advocacy group Health Access, said further expansion of the program could come in the future.
The proposal also makes California the first state to subsidize insurance for middle-income families. A family of four earning as much as six times the federal poverty level – or more than $150,000 a year – would be eligible for $100 a month from the government to help pay for insurance. Newsom had initially balked at the subsidy but ultimately relented.
“California believes that health is a fundamental right,” said state Sen. Holly Mitchell, a Los Angeles Democrat who led the budget negotiations.
But to pay for part of it, the state will begin taxing people who don’t have health insurance. The plan is similar to a part of President Barack Obama’s health care law that Republicans in Congress eliminated as part of the 2017 overhaul to the tax code.