California may extend some health benefits to illegal immigrants who take advantage of President Obama’s executive amnesty, according to the Associated Press.
The state, which boasts the largest number of illegal immigrants in the country, already provides Medicaid coverage (called Medi-Cal in California) to DREAMers, those who were eligible under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). That includes anyone earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
After Obamacare’s expansion, California’s Medicaid rolls grew by 3 million people, according to the AP. In light of the White House’s move to provide amnesty and stop deportations on up to 5 million illegal immigrants, those people will likely become eligible for California’s Medicaid program as well. The White House has said that Obamacare exchanges will remain closed to illegal immigrants.
That will significantly up Medi-Cal’s bill for California taxpayers. The program, which covers 11 million people in all, is expected to cost $17 billion of state funding in 2014, which is 3.5 percent higher than 2013’s total, the AP reports. The federal government is currently funding Medicaid expansion patients entirely and partially pays for the rest of Medi-Cal’s patients. Expanding Medi-Cal to people under the latest amnesty could up the costs even more.
“We are assessing what some of the potential impacts could be, but it would be premature for us to comment until we have more specific information available,” Norman Williams, spokesman for California’s Department of Health Care Services, told the AP.
Meanwhile, some activists and state politicians are again pushing to extend state health coverage to everyone in California, illegal immigrants or not.
“The president’s action covers almost half of California’s undocumented population, but that still leaves over a million people with no access to health care. We can do better,” said Democratic state Sen. Ricardo Lara.
Lara will reintroduce a bill entitled ‘Health4All’ on Monday which would open Medi-Cal and the state’s Obamacare exchange, including its premium and cost-sharing subsidies, to all California, regardless of legal status.
“The bill will cover those remaining uninsured that will not benefit from Obama’s action,” Lara said.
The liberal Center for American Progress estimates that 1.2 million illegal immigrants in California will now long be eligible for deportation as a result of Obama’s executive amnesty; there are 2.6 million illegal immigrants in California total, according to the AP.