California will become the first state to pay for some adults living in the country illegally to have full health benefits as the solidly liberal bastion continues to resist the policies of Republican President Donald Trump’s administration.
Democrats in the state Legislature reached an agreement Sunday afternoon as part of a broader plan to spend $213 billion of state and federal tax money over the next year. The legislature is expected to approve the deal this week. The agreement means low-income adults between the ages of 19 and 25 living in California illegally would be eligible for California’s Medicaid program, the joint state and federal health insurance program for the poor and disabled.
Only those in that age group whose incomes are low enough to qualify for the program would get the health benefits. State officials estimate that group will be about 90,000 people at a cost of $98 million per year. The state Senate had wanted to expand the proposal to include adults 65 and older, but the Newsom administration argued it would cost too much.
“California believes that health is a fundamental right,” said state Sen. Holly Mitchell, a Los Angeles Democrat who led the budget negotiations.
The move is part of a larger effort to make sure everyone in California has health insurance. The proposal also makes California the first state in the country to help middle-income families pay their monthly health insurance premiums. It means a family of four earning as much as six times the federal poverty level — or more than $150,000 a year — would be eligible to get about $100 a month from the government to help pay their monthly health insurance premiums.
But to pay for part of it, the state will begin taxing people who don’t have health insurance. It’s a revival of the individual mandate penalty that had been law nationwide under former President Barack Obama’s health care law until Republicans in Congress eliminated it as part of the 2017 overhaul to the tax code.
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