MM Curator summary
[ MM Curator Summary]: CA continues to add coverage for non-citizens.
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Democratic governor says California should be first state to offer healthcare to all residents regardless of immigration status
California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled his proposed 2022-2023 state budget in Sacramento on Monday.
Photo: Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press
California would become the first state to provide access to its Medicaid program to all low-income residents, regardless of immigration status, under a proposal unveiled Monday by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The plan is part of a $286.4 billion budget plan the Democrat has proposed that also includes billions of dollars in investments for the state’s wildfire response, homelessness and drought assistance.
If the plan is approved by state legislators later this year, Mr. Newsom said, all low-income Californians would qualify for the state’s Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal, starting January 2024.
California previously extended health coverage to children who entered the U.S. without legal authorization in 2016 and later expanded those benefits to young adults up to the age of 26. Last year, California became the first state in the nation to allow seniors aged 50 and over who aren’t citizens or legal residents to participate in the program.
Once fully implemented, the Medi-Cal expansion is expected to cost about $2.2 billion a year, Mr. Newsom said. The proposed spending is possible in part due to a $45.7 billion state budget surplus that is projected for the fiscal year that begins in July, due in part to growing receipts from high-income earners who pay a large share of state income and capital-gains taxes.
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“I’m confident that we can do that within the constraints of the budget,” Mr. Newsom said, when asked whether the outlays would be sustainable at a press conference on his budget proposal.
Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights, an advocacy group, said the expansion is especially important at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected low-income immigrant communities.
Marie Waldron, leader of the State Assembly’s Republican minority, opposes the expansion because she says Medi-Cal is already failing to adequately serve the approximately 14 million people who currently use the program in a state with a population of 40 million. “Enrolling millions more into the system will do little but give people an expensive insurance card that doesn’t get them access to quality healthcare,” she said.
Republicans unsuccessfully opposed last year’s law that expanded Medi-Cal to senior citizens who entered the U.S. illegally.
Some Democrats, who have a large majority in both houses of California’s Legislature, have previously proposed expanding Medi-Cal to all residents regardless of immigration status. With Mr. Newsom’s support, the proposal now has a good chance of passing into law.
Some Democratic lawmakers are pushing for a statewide single payer healthcare system. They recently released a framework that would rely on new taxes on businesses, payroll and personal incomes for all but the lowest-income individuals.
Mr. Newsom declined to comment on that proposal Monday.
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