The allocation will give an estimated 764,000 people free health care coverage at a cost of $2.7 billion annually beginning in 2024, under the budget’s expansion of the state’s Medi-Cal coverage.
“This is what being ‘pro-life’ ACTUALLY looks like,” Newsom wrote on Twitter on June 30.
Across the country, federal and state governments provide free health care to low-income residents through Medicaid, but illegal immigrants currently are excluded. Newsom’s provision will make California the only state to offer free health care regardless of citizenship status.
An estimated 92 percent of Californians have some form of health care, but that will change once the budget is in full swing and illegal immigrants—who make up the largest group of people in the state without health care—receive it under the expansion.
Various reports give different estimations of how many illegal immigrants live in the state, but according to Pew Research Center, there were roughly 2.2 million recorded in 2016. Despite not having legal status, these immigrants make up about 7 percent of the state’s workforce, according to a 2020 report by the health care nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.
Hailed by immigrant advocates and proponents of universal health care, some critics worry that free health care will further incentivize illegal crossings at the southern border at a time when deaths among those crossing are increasing.
Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, told The Associated Press the expansion of Medi-Cal is “a magnet for those who are not legally authorized to enter the country.”
“I think many of us are very sympathetic to the immigrant community, but we really wish we had better control of who enters this nation and this state.”