California is the first state to offer some undocumented immigrants health benefits with taxpayer funding.
Governor Gavin Newson signed SB-104 into law extending health care benefits to adults age 25 and younger, regardless of immigration status.
“If you believe in universal health care, you believe in universal health care,” he stated. “And we have made another incremental step towards that vision, getting it to everybody up to the age of 26 regardless of immigration status.”
Since 2016, California has offered taxpayer-backed health care to those 18 and younger regardless of immigration status. The new law extends coverage through the state’s Medicaid program and is expected to cover 90,000 low-income residents between 19 to 25 years old. It would go into effect in 2020 and is expected to cost the state $98 million in the first year.
Advocates say the new law is a way for undocumented immigrants to get the health care they need, while critics say health care funding should be spent on those living in the state legally. Despite paying taxes in all 50 states, undocumented immigrants are not eligible for federal health insurance programs except in some cases of medical emergencies and pregnancies.
According to the Pew Research Center, California has more immigrants than any other state in the U.S.