California would be the first United States state to cover everyone under its Medicaid plan, regardless of immigration status.
California would be the first U.S. state to provide health coverage to all immigrants within its borders, regardless of how they arrived in the state, under a new budget plan proposed by Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday.
Newsom’s proposal would use part of California’s booming budget surplus to provide health care coverage through the state’s system for any low-income resident, regardless of immigration status. California already provides health care coverage to immigrants up to the age of 26 and over 55.
California, which is equal to the world’s fifth largest economy, plans to start covering immigrants 50 and older in May. Now Newsom wants state legislators to cover the remaining uninsured immigrants from 2024 at an estimated cost of $ 2.4 billion a year, The Associated Press reported.
Newsom’s proposal to provide health care to immigrants is likely to attract attention as the United States struggles with an ongoing immigration crisis. Earlier this year, the state made COVID-19 vaccines available to farm workers who experienced a greater increase in coronavirus infection. Newsom’s new plan was one of a number of policies he proposed Monday to reduce economic inequality in the state.
Overall, Newsom sent the California legislature a budget of $ 286.4 billion that builds on what analysts expect for the year ahead to be at least a $ 31 billion surplus.
The governor’s annual budget proposes nearly $ 10 billion in new spending on five major “existential threats” facing Newsom state: COVID-19, climate change, homelessness, inequality and violent crime, according to a fact sheet from the governor’s office.
The plan will set parameters for months of negotiations with Democrats in charge of the California state legislature over key priorities for state programs.
Some progressive Legislative Democrats last week proposed creating the country’s first universal health care system in California, backed by sharp tax increases that must be approved by voters.
Newsom also proposed on Monday to spend $ 648 million to support firefighters in the field and buy more helicopters and bulldozers, plus another $ 1.2 billion over the current fiscal year’s $ 1.5 billion for forest management.
Another $ 750 million will go to drought relief, in addition to the current fiscal year’s $ 5.2 billion water package.
Newsom has pledged $ 300 million to promote law enforcement efforts to combat retail theft and another $ 2.7 billion to coronavirus testing and hospital staff.
To address the state’s seemingly insoluble homelessness problem, he proposed spending $ 2 billion on mental health services, housing and the cleaning of homeless camps. That would be in addition to last year’s $ 12 billion package and would create a projected 55,000 new housing units and treatment slots.
To help with the ever-increasing cost of living in California, Newsom proposed to “double” the state’s existing plan to provide free, universal preschool; add thousands of childcare slots and boost summer school programs.
He also suggested continued assistance to small businesses hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic by waiving fees and providing hundreds of millions in grants and tax breaks.
Newsom’s massive projected budget and surplus brings the state far from the gloom of 2020, when Newsom and state legislators spending cut, raised taxes and withdrew money from the state’s savings accounts to cover what they feared would be a pandemic – fueled deficit. It never happened. Instead, government revenue has skyrocketed like never before.
In September, collections from the state’s three largest taxes – personal income, sales and corporation – were 40 percent higher than in September 2020 and nearly 60 percent higher than September 2019, before the pandemic hit, according to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office.