California is one step closer to expanding Medicaid for illegal immigrants in the state, with legislation from both chambers of the legislature that could reach Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.
The California State Assembly last week passed a measure that would expand a current program, introduced in 2015 by Brown, which provided Medi-Cal coverage for undocumented minors under the age of 19. The new legislation, introduced by Democratic State Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula, expands that program to cover undocumented young adults up to age 26.
“The Medi-Cal program is, in part, governed and funded by federal Medicaid program provisions,” the Assembly bill read. “The federal Medicaid program prohibits payment to a state for medical assistance furnished to an alien who is not lawfully admitted for permanent residence or otherwise permanently residing in the United States under color of law.”
Arambula’s bill was initially slated to cover all undocumented adults, but was amended to expand coverage to just young adults under 26 years of age. That bill is expected to be considered in the California State Senate.
“This bill would extend eligibility for full-scope Medi-Cal benefits to individuals who are under 26 years of age and who are otherwise eligible for those benefits but for their immigration status,” the bill reads.
A spokesperson for Brown directed Fox News to Arambula’s office for comment.
On the other side of the Capitol, California state Sen. Ricardo Lara introduced similar legislation. This bill would cover undocumented minors up to the age of 19, and would expand the program to cover undocumented adults 65 years and older. Lara’s bill also was originally written to cover all undocumented adults, but was amended in Senate appropriations, according to a California state legislature source.
An aide in Arambula’s office told Fox News that the assemblymember’s bill was separate from Lara’s, but that both technically can pass and reach the governor’s desk.
“We are trying to address the fact that, whether you like it or not, our undocumented community needs the care, and we are paying for it anyway,” Lara told Politico.
A spokesperson for Lara did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
If the bills pass, California could become the first state in the nation to offer health insurance coverage to illegal immigrants, beyond the current policy.
The California Legislative Analyst’s Office told Modern Healthcare that offering full-cost healthcare coverage would cost the state $3 billon for the 2018-2019 year. When the legislation was introduced last year, the state was expected to spend $1 billion a year to provide healthcare to illegal immigrants.
“This is just more bad policy coming out of California. They make it more and more accommodating for illegal aliens and more and more middle class families are picking up and leaving California,” Federation for American Immigration Reform spokesman Ira Mehlman told Fox News.
“The best way to deal with illegal immigration is not to worry about or figure out how to pay for needs like healthcare, but to discourage people from breaking the law and bringing their kids here in the first place.”
Mehlman added: “California’s position seems to be that they’re going to continue to encourage people to come illegally and dream up new programs to encourage people, to the detriment of everyone else in California.