SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A budget deal between Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders would make California the first in the nation to offer state-subsidized health care to children who are in the country illegally.
The $167.6 billion agreement announced Tuesday is expected to win easy approval from the Senate and Assembly before the fiscal year begins July 1, and its immigrant health care provisions were touted by its backers as a necessity in the face of federal inaction.
"While Washington dithers because they can't get things done, we need immigration reform," said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles). "The reality is many of these children, and they are children, require some kind of health care and they receive it in the emergency room."
The cost to taxpayers would be $40 million in the new fiscal year and grow to $132 million a year once fully implemented to cover an estimated 170,00 children under age 19, numbers that had Republicans objecting and warning that it won't help immigrants get access to doctors because of the shortage of providers who accept Medi-Cal, the state's health program for the poor.
Anti-immigration advocates said it was yet another move from Brown — like a bill providing driver's licenses that took effect this year — that is "extremely generous" toward people who enter the country illegally.