California lawmakers are poised to make the state the first in the nation to expand Medicaid benefits to adult “undocumented” immigrants, at a cost of more than $3 billion per year to California taxpayers.
According to Politico, the proposal would greatly expand an existing program that grants Medicaid benefits to the children of illegal immigrants. California Governor Jerry Brown has been particularly proud of this program, largely because it’s a direct attack on President Donald Trump who wants stricter, not looser, curbs on immigration, and more attention paid to how immigration ends up costing taxpayers.
“California has never waited for the federal government, or for a political climate, to be able to take leadership on a whole host of issues,” stated Sen. Ricardo Lara, who authored the Medicaid expansion bill.
The cost of California’s “generosity” will fall on California taxpayers.
“The annual price tag to expand Medicaid benefits to poor adult immigrants without legal status is projected at $3 billion annually,” Politico reports — and that’s just for illegal immigrants who already live in California. A program like this could make California a magnet for immigrants currently living in other states, and might make emigrating to California in defiance of American immigration laws worth the trip.
And California certainly can’t afford another $3 billion program; the state is already projected to run into a $1.6 billion deficit, by the governor’s own admission. Currently, the governor’s budget includes a surplus, but that rosy picture dims quickly when you consider adding such a dangerous long-term fiscal commitment while revenue growth declines.
According to Sen. Lara, though, the government pays for the services either way, whether immigrants receive healthcare at emergency rooms without presenting proof of insurance, or whether the government issues Medicaid cards.
California Republicans are at least hopeful that the budget fight will energize GOP voters to turn out to the polls in November.