California becomes 1st state to give taxpayer-funded health benefits to illegal immigrants

Gov. Gavin Newsom, D-Calif., signed a bill into law on Tuesday making young illegal immigrants eligible for the Medicaid program in California, making it the first state to offer such taxpayer-funded health benefits to low-income adults age 25 and younger regardless of their immigration status.

State officials said they expected the plan to cover about 90,000 people and cost taxpayers $98 million. California already covered children 18 and younger regardless of immigration status.

The law will not give health insurance benefits to everyone 25 and younger, but only those whose income is low enough to qualify.

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Newsom and fellow Democrats in the state legislature said they planned to expand coverage to more adults in the years to come.

Advocates of the measure have called it a way to improve the health of immigrants in the state by providing them with access to the medical care they need.

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Many immigrants in the country illegally already have been enrolled for some government-funded programs, but they covered only emergencies and pregnancies.

Democrats had pushed to expand the coverage to even more adults, but Newsom rejected the proposals, saying it would cost about $3.4 billion to provide coverage to all California adults living in the country illegally.

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But, he still has vowed to keep expanding coverage in future years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.