Lora Korpar, Newsweek, January 10, 2022
California Governor Gavin Newsom proposed Monday providing health care coverage to all immigrants, legal and illegal.
This move is part of a statewide effort to reduce its number of uninsured residents, which has shown success. The largest group of people that remains insured by the state’s Medicaid program is people of lower incomes in the United States illegally.
According to a legislative analysis, filling this gap would cost the state $2.4 billion annually. Newsom plans to use a surplus in the state’s $286.4 billion budget to cover this.
While the California Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated the surplus to be at least $31 billion, Newsom’s proposal has an even larger estimate due to his office’s broader definition of what constitutes a surplus.
The state began providing health coverage to immigrants age 26 and under in 2019, then began covering immigrants age 50 and over in 2021. Newsom wants the rest covered by the beginning of 2024.
Detailed plans for introducing and paying for this expansion are not currently clear.
Newsom’s administration called the lack of health insurance for some immigrants one of the “existential threats” it must tackle. Others include the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires, drought, homelessness and public safety.
Covering immigrants age 50 and up, the most recent expansion, will eventually cost taxpayers about $1.3 billion per year.