Lawmakers in Oregon are considering a new bill, named Cover All Kids, that would provide health insurance to illegal immigrants under the age of 19, according to an Associated Press report.
The law would ensure health coverage for more than 17,500 people, while costing Oregon taxpayers an extra $55 million. Opponents of the proposal are arguing the ordinance would dig the state into an even deeper financial hole.
“We have a state that thinks it has a $1.8 billion budget gap and yet we’re considering giving more state benefits to thousands of illegal immigrants,” said Jim Ludwick of Oregonians for Immigration Reform. “It boggles the mind.”
Gov. Kate Brown has publicly acknowledged her support for the measure, saying, “Oregon children should have the opportunity to be healthy and ready to learn, and Oregon families should feel confident that a medical event will not dramatically change the trajectory of their lives.”
Brown said studies prove that having health care will create better lives for children, according to KVAL News.
Should the bill pass, families bringing in less than 300 percent of the federal poverty line will qualify for “Cover All Kids.” The program will run through the Oregon Health Plan, which is essentially a statewide version of Medicaid. The measure would only apply to unauthorized children of a household and not any other members of the family.
“Cover All Kids is receiving support on both sides of the aisle, as Rep. John Huffman, a Republican from The Dalles, Ore., said the insurance expansion “makes sense morally and economically.”
Federal law forces hospitals to provide health care to individuals in emergency situations regardless of residency status.
Many unauthorized immigrants have reached out to non-profit organizations to fund their health care needs. For Norma Baltazar, “It still worries me. There’s no guarantee.”