The first state to offer free healthcare for all illegal immigrants with a low income will be California. This measure implies a cost that amounts to approximately $2.7 billion annually, but it will allow for 764,000 more people to get coverage.
As part of Gov. Newsom’s $307.9 billion operating budget, the measure aims at making low-income people eligible for the Medicaid program until 2024.
While most federal and state governments provide low-income people with free healthcare services through Medicaid, California will be the first state to expand these services to people residing illegally in the country. As illegal immigrants represent one of the biggest groups of people that are not insured in California, the implementation of the new measure will place it among the top states with the highest percentage of insured people in the US.
According to the executive director of Health Access California, Anthony Wright, cited by CBS News, “this will represent the biggest expansion of coverage in the nation since the start of the Affordable Care Act in 2014.” At the same time, Wright stated that “in California, we recognize (that) everybody benefits when everyone is covered.”
Fortunately, some health care services are becoming increasingly accessible to immigrants. In addition to the District of Columbia and the states of California, Illinois, New York, Oregon, and Washington, which ensure free healthcare services for all children from low-income families, regardless of their legal status, other eighteen states now provide prenatal care to persons regardless of their immigration status.
However, the expansion of Medicaid in California will not be a simple process. Apart from the slow implementation of the new measure and the end of special pandemic policies, will lead to almost 40,000 immigrants losing their rights to healthcare for almost a year before having the chance to access them again. This is yet another example of how difficult it actually is to navigate a health insurance system that is managed by the government and that is intended to make it easier for people to have access to medical services.