Illinois has started providing free health care to more illegal immigrants, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office announced on April 15.
Illegal aliens aged 55 to 64 in Illinois are now covered by the state. They can access services such as doctor visits, dental care, and laboratory tests for free.
Illinois started covering health care for many illegal immigrants aged 65 or older in December 2020. The expansion was approved by the state legislature in 2021 and signed by Pritzker, a Democrat.
“Implementing more equitable health care coverage across the state is central to HFS’ mission, which means increasing access to quality health care choices for all Illinois residents, regardless of their immigration status,” Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) Director Theresa Eagleson said in a statement.
Illinois state Sen. Delia Ramirez, a Democrat who has led the charge for providing health care to illegal immigrants, said, “The Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults program providing coverage to noncitizen adults aged 55 and over is a significant step toward a more equitable health care system in Illinois.”
People are eligible for the program if they’re illegally in the country or have been a legal permanent resident for less than five years and their annual income is at or below $18,754 for one person or $25,268 for two people. The limits are the same as those outlined in the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Federal law bars illegal immigrants from participating in many health care programs, such as Medicare.
Illinois must foot the bill for the services because of the federal law.
The program will be expanded even further on July 1 following the passage of Illinois House Bill 4343. On that date, illegal immigrants who meet the conditions and are aged 42 to 54 will be able to obtain free health care.
Democrats say the expansion is needed to help ensure poorer people, including illegal immigrants, receive health care. Republicans have criticized the program and leveled fresh criticism against the latest expansion.
“We have told so many other groups that they cannot get coverage, but yet in turn we are going to expand this coverage for undocumenteds, so I urge a ‘no’ vote from this side, for multiple reasons,” Illinois state Sen. Dave Syverson, a Republican, told colleagues before the vote on the House measure.
California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, and Pennsylvania also use state funds to cover some illegal immigrants’ health care, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
California, Illinois, New York, Oregon, Washington state, and Washington also cover children from low-income families, even families that are in the country illegally.