Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation that made California the first state to provide health care coverage to undocumented adults, as the $98 million measure expanded Medi-Cal to include an additional 100,000 people, according to USA Today.
Undocumented immigrants, ages 19 to 25, are now eligible for the state’s Medicaid program. The new measure was signed on Tuesday, the same day the state forecasted an average premium increase of less than 1% for 2020.
The state is projected to have a surplus of more than $20 billion because the coverage expansion and low average premium increase are being funded through the individual mandate that requires California residents to purchase health insurance for themselves and their dependents, or face a state tax penalty.
Peter Lee, Covered California’s executive director, said, “The bold moves by Gov. Newsom and the Legislature will save Californians hundreds of millions of dollars in premiums and provide new financial assistance to middle-income Californians, which will help people get covered and stay covered.”
While Newsom has pledged to further expand coverage, the executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center, Cynthia Buiza, said, “The exclusion of undocumented elders from the same health care their U.S. citizen neighbors are eligible for means beloved community members will suffer and die from treatable conditions.”