California lawmakers propose free Medicaid for illegal immigrants
Democratic lawmakers in California announced on Wednesday a plan to provide free medicare coverage to illegal immigrants. The proposal would eliminate the legal residency requirements in California’s Medicaid program, called “Medi-Cal”, and is projected to cost state taxpayers at least $1 billion per year.
The announcement is part of $4.3 billion in new spending proposed by Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting, who leads the state’s budget committee.
Ting also said the state’s lawmakers are exploring ways to restructure California’s tax code to pay for the increased healthcare spending if Congress approves the proposed U.S. tax cuts. Reducing federal taxes, Democratic lawmakers believe, will hurt high-tax states such as California, by reducing the amount of federal assistance available to such states, forcing those states to pay for more of their own entitlement programs.
The California dream: “free” healthcare for all… paid for by the few
Providing free health care, also known as “socialized medicine”, has been a dream of California liberals for years. Liberal activists targeted local lawmakers last year, demanding state-funded health care for everyone, including California’s estimated 2.6 million illegal immigrants. When confronted by the estimated $400 billion annual cost, the activists retreated but vowed to continue their efforts.
The proposal announced on Wednesday appears to be an effort by local lawmakers to appease the activists with a “first step”, extending universal health care coverage to those within California’s Medi-Cal program, and opening that program to all California residents, including its 2.6 million illegal immigrants.
According to data published by the Public Policy Institute of California, nearly a quarter of the nation’s illegal immigrants reside in California, constituting more than 6% of the state’s entire population.
Majority of California’s Medi-Cal costs are paid for by federal funds, i.e. the nation’s taxpayers
Federal funds pay for between 50 and 95 percent of California’s Medi-Cal costs. Opening the program to illegal immigrants could therefore force the federal government, and by extension, the rest of the country’s tax-paying citizens, to provide free healthcare to California’s illegal immigrant population.
California Governor Brown will release his budget proposal next month. A spokesman for the state’s Department of Finance, H.D. Palmer, has hinted that Brown hopes to increase state budget reserves and reduce California’s (currently unsustainable) spending levels, suggesting the Governor may oppose the Medi-Cal proposal.
Given Brown’s history of caving to liberal lawmakers, however, it is more likely that Brown will support the Medi-Cal expansion, announce another state tax increase to pay for the proposed $1 billion in additional annual costs, and then blame the entire situation on President Trump and the looming federal tax cuts.