Left-leaning states around the U.S. have begun expanding healthcare options for illegal immigrants, with some of them not being required to show important papers such as green cards.
California is the most recent state to implement policies that offer health insurance to all illegal immigrants in the state through its program, Medi-Cal, the state’s version of Medicaid.
In the past, illegal immigrants in the state were not qualified to get comprehensive health insurance, but could only get emergency services under Medi-Cal, according to ABC News. California state Sen. Maria Durazo said about 700,000 illegal immigrants between ages 26 and 49 are eligible for full coverage.
“This historic investment speaks to California’s commitment to health care as a human right,” Durazo said in a statement, using the phrase “undocumented residents” to describe the recipients.
Last week, California state Rep. Bill Essayli introduced legislation to revoke all taxpayer funding of healthcare for illegal immigrants.
“It is unconscionable to spend billions of taxpayer dollars to give universal healthcare to illegal immigrants when our own citizens cannot afford their own healthcare on top of historic inflation and the highest cost of living in the nation,” Essayli wrote on the social media platform, X.
In late 2022, Washington state started allowing immigrants to receive healthcare through a program called Washington Healthplanfinder. According to the website, applicants can get insured without being required to show immigration papers or green cards, “regardless of immigration status.”
Two years ago, Washington received a waiver for the government requested by Gov. Jay Inslee (D), that allows healthcare enrollment to expand in order to “work towards its goals of improving health equity and reducing racial disparities by expanding access to coverage for the uninsured population.”
Undocumented immigrants in the state have until Jan. 15 to apply for insurance, meaning potentially 105,000 people could apply.
A community outreach manager with Community Health Plan Washington, Brisa Guajardo, praised the health policy in an interview with the South Seattle Emerald. “I think this is really going to change the outcome of many to be able to seek preventive care without having to worry about high cost bills,” she told the outlet.
Last year, Oregon also expanded health insurance for low-income residents regardless of their immigration status.
Through a program called Healthier Oregon, about 40,000 immigrants who had received state-funded emergency health coverage were switched to a program where they had government-funded health insurance. “When it comes to health, we’re all connected,” Dave Baden, interim director of Oregon Health Authority said, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.“Expanded health coverage through the full implementation of Healthier Oregon will keep more people and families healthy, which will reduce health costs and risks for every community.”
Elected GOP officials have spoken out against these practices, arguing that it is not fair to the American people.
“While American citizens struggle to pay for prescription drugs & basic healthcare, Democrats continue using their tax dollars to provide FREE services to illegal immigrants,” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y wrote on X, criticizing California’s healthcare policy. “Their priority is citizens of other countries, not YOU.”
Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Calif., also criticized California Gov. Newsom (D) for allowing the policy, arguing that the Golden State needs to focus on its deficit.
“Newsom’s plan to fix the deficit?” he wrote on X. “Spend billions we don’t have to give 700,000 illegal immigrants free healthcare. We have a $68 billion budget deficit, CA families can barely afford to survive and pay for their own healthcare, and border crossings are at an all time high. This is offensive to taxpayers and a recipe for disaster.”