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CA to provide all low-income illegal immigrants health care at a cost of ‘$2.7 billion a year’

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On Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a $307.9 billion operating budget “that pledges to make all low-income adults eligible for the state’s Medicaid program by 2024 regardless of their immigration status” reports the Associated Press.

The guarantee of free health care for low-income immigrants here illegally, is a “move that will provide coverage for an additional 764,000 people at an eventual cost of about $2.7 billion a year” adds the AP.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health care nonprofit, people living in the country illegally in 2020 accounted for roughly 7% of the population nationwide, or about 22.1 million people. The border crisis and number of migrants entering the United States illegally has skyrocketed to historic levels since 2020 when President Joe Biden took office.

Medicaid nationwide is the current combination of federal and state governments assisting Americans and low-income adults and children to receive free health care, but the federal government does not cover those living here illegally.

“Some states, including California, have used their own tax dollars to cover a portion of health care expenses for some low-income immigrants” reports the AP. “Now, California wants to be the first to do that for everyone.”

“This will represent the biggest expansion of coverage in the nation since the start of the Affordable Care Act in 2014,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, a statewide consumer health care advocacy group. “In California we recognize (that) everybody benefits when everyone is covered.”

While 92% of Californians currently have some form of health insurance, “that will change once this budget is fully implemented, as adults living in the country illegally make up one of the largest groups of people without insurance in the state” the AP concludes.

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Economy

Biden Administration Expands Obamacare Coverage for ‘Dreamers’

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Friday morning the Biden administration announced it is expanding health-care access for “Dreamers”, a select group of illegal immigrants brought to the country as children. Illegal immigrants enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be granted access to health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, according to the White House. Beginning in November, DACA members will be able to apply for healthcare coverage on healthcare.gov and state level insurance marketplaces.

“I’m proud of the contributions of Dreamers to our country and committed to providing Dreamers the support they need to succeed,” President Joe Biden said in a prepared statement. “And that’s why today we are taking this historic step to ensure that DACA recipients have the same access to health care through the Affordable Care Act as their neighbors.”

National Review notes Biden was vice president when then-president Barack Obama created DACA through executive order over a decade ago. The program gives deportation protections and work visas to illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. An estimated 580,000 people are enrolled in the program. Former president Donald Trump failed to put an end to DACA during his term and the program continues to be fought in court.

Over 100,000 DACA beneficiaries will purchase health insurance in the Health Insurance Marketplace and Basic Health Program created by the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services estimates. Access to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program will not be incorporated into the White House’s new rule after Biden proposed doing so last year, according to National Review.

“Now as Vice President, I have worked alongside President Biden to take steps to preserve and fortify DACA. Today, we are building on this progress by ensuring DACA recipients also have access to affordable health care, which will improve the health of all communities,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a prepared statement. “This announcement will bring relief to more than 100,000 people and help them thrive while working to achieve their aspirations.”

The White House did not share a cost estimate for the expansion of Obamacare to DACA recipients. They will be eligible for financial assistance to help them afford the health insurance DACA enrollees are now eligible to purchase.

Biden called for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform and to give Dreamers permanent citizenship. It’s unlikely that Congress will grant Biden’s wishes, given the failure of the Senate’s bipartisan immigration package earlier this year. Conservatives widely rejected the Senate’s proposal for not being tough enough on the southern border at a time when record levels of illegal immigrants are entering the country.

Immigration is a top issue for voters in the 2024 election because of the surge in border crossings under Biden’s watch. Polls indicate that Americans believe that Trump is better suited to handle the crisis at the southern border with his hardline approach.

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