Tammy Bruce: California’s free health care for illegal immigrants an unsustainable financial burden

The health and welfare of Californians and the undocumented immigrants who flocked to that state are now under direct attack by a state bureaucracy that sees people only as disposable pieces on a political chessboard.

California is on the verge of becoming the first state in the country to give free health care to adult illegal immigrants. Using the state Medi-Cal program, which offers free or low-cost health coverage for those with limited incomes, the state estimates this will provide free health care to what they believe is 100,000 illegal immigrants between the ages of 19 and 25 years old.

A Washington Examiner editorial noted, “California wants to look after its people, so it keeps expanding its social safety net. It also wants to welcome all comers and so embraces illegal immigrants and protects them in sanctuary cities. To see how this is working out, visit Skid Row in L.A. or neighborhoods in San Francisco or elsewhere where homeless camps are spreading. … Just as California lacks enough homes to house its inhabitants, so it also lacks enough doctors to care for them. The additional budget bloat on health care will worsen that shortage.”

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And how will state officials pay for this? They will be instituting their own state-based individual mandate, slapping an extra tax or fine on Californians who do not have health insurance.

Every one of us wants people to have health care. This is one of the reasons why support for ObamaCare was initially very high. But here’s the fact of the matter: The Affordable Care Act expanded Medi-Cal in California, and then in 2016 the state begin covering illegal immigrant children under the same program.

As more and more people went onto the Medi-Cal rolls, the number of doctors did not increase. As I have been stating since 2010, having health insurance is not the same as getting health care. The people in California relying on Medi-Cal are finding that out.

In 2017, the Bakersfield Californian reported on a dangerous development: “Emergency room visits are up 29 percent in Kern County since 2009 when the Affordable Care Act was passed, running counter to one of the key takeaways from the law: that they would decrease as consumers take advantage of preventive care … When more Californians began enrolling in Medi-Cal, local hospitals started seeing a surge in emergency room visitors. It has impacted every hospital in Kern County.” The newspaper reported that hospital ER visits in that county surged, ranging from 10 percent to 39 percent.

Moreover, the Kaiser Health Network reported this month that more emergency room patients are leaving California hospitals against medical advice, with administrators blaming overcrowded ER conditions.

The problems are obvious. One of the more obscene manipulations is that the vulnerable around the world hear about free health care and the safety of sanctuary cities when both of those terms are lies. Yet they leave their homes after being encouraged by the news they hear and imagine an American utopia.

Instead, they get California, where politicians use them as political pawns. The supposed free health care involves getting a Medi-Cal card. When getting an appointment with a doctor is impossible, they will go to an emergency room and will be among the other Medi-Cal recipients waiting in a sea of individuals who are ill and suffering.

In the sanctuary city of Los Angeles, many will find themselves sleeping on the street on the now famous downtown piles of trash infested with rats and alongside others infected with lice-borne typhus.

Californians also should be appalled at the fact that the state recently killed a bill that would have allowed Californians over the age of 65 to also fold into the Medi-Cal program.

“The budget comes after Democratic lawmakers, who dominate the state capitol, scrapped a proposal to provide Medi-Cal coverage to adults over 65 years old. The expansion of coverage to the elderly was opposed by Governor Gavin Newsom who noted that the plan would cost $3.4bn,” the BBC reported.

Yet the costs associated with covering illegal aliens between the ages of 19 and 25 have to be estimated, making them genuinely unknown.

Not only does the state not know how many undocumented 19- to 25-year-olds there actually are in California, but as a benefit is bestowed upon a certain age group, many will find the imagined benefit worth fibbing about their age.

As Americans, we want everyone to do well and have health care. What is unacceptable, however, is exploiting those issues to implement crazy politicized schemes that destroy lives and collapse systems.

Even without the scheme of providing “free” health care to an indeterminable number of illegal immigrants, California is already under a shocking unsustainable financial burden.

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In 2017, the California Policy Center reported, “We estimate that California’s total state and local government debt as of June 30, 2017 totaled just over $1.5 trillion. That total includes all outstanding bonds, loans, and other long-term liabilities, along with the officially reported unfunded liability for other post-employment benefits (primarily retiree healthcare), as well as unfunded pension liabilities … Our findings may appear to contradict reports that suggest a state budget surplus of about $9 billion. But the state’s spare cash and rainy day funds pale before the mountain of long-term liabilities that California governments at all levels have accumulated.”

What could go wrong?

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THIS COLUMN ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE WASHINGTON TIMES