California lawmakers approved a bill that will provide free health care to young low-income adults who are in the United States illegally.
The state’s budget committee approved a bill that will make undocumented adults between 19 and 25 years old eligible for the state’s Medicaid program if their income is low enough to qualify, NBC News reports. The bill is expected to pass the full state legislature.
State officials estimated the expansion will cover 90,000 people at a cost of $98 million.
“California believes that health is a fundamental right,” said State Sen. Holly Mitchell, a Los Angeles Democrat who led the budget negotiations.
Republicans on the budget committee voted against the proposal, arguing that it was “not fair to give health benefits to people who are in the country illegally while taxing people who are here legally for not purchasing health insurance.”
But undocumented immigrants pay taxes too. According to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, undocumented immigrants pay nearly $3.2 billion in California state and local taxes each year.
Some Democrats pushed to provide coverage for all undocumented adults in California but Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom pushed back on the idea, noting it would cost $3.4 billion.
California approves major health care expansion:
Along with making young undocumented adults eligible for the state’s Medicaid program, the legislature also proposed a $213 billion budget that would make California the first state to provide assistance for families earning up to six times the federal poverty level (the poverty level is $12,490 for one person, $25,750 for a family of four).
Under the proposal, families of four earning up to $150,000 per year would be eligible for aid of $100 per month toward their health care premiums.
The proposal would be paid for by a new tax on people who don’t have health insurance, effectively reviving the Obamacare penalty that Congress eliminated in 2017.