SAN DIEGO – An immigrant group in San Diego heaped praise Monday on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new push to provide universal health care for all, regardless of their citizenship status.
In a $286.4 billion budget proposal outlined Monday, Newsom highlighted free health care for all immigrants in the country illegally as a top priority.
“Today we are celebrating,” said Dulce Garcia, chair of San Diego Immigrants’ Rights Consortium. “We know this is not only an acknowledgment of our presence but our great contributions to California.”
Garcia, who learned she was brought into the United States illegally from Mexico when she was 4 years old, said her family often ignores health problems out of fear of missing work or owing thousands of dollars in medical bills.
“I remember having my own father make a decision of whether or not to go to the hospital,” she said. “His injury was infected when he finally showed up at the hospital and they told him it would have been amputated if he had waited any longer.”
In recent years, California has boosted access to health care for its residents, but low-income residents living in the U.S. illegally still make up a sizable portion of the uninsured under the state’s Medicaid program.
In 2019, the state began covering immigrants ages 26 and younger and those 55 and older in 2020.
In Newsom’s multi-billion dollar budget proposal, he wants the state to cover the age group in the middle — ages 27 to 54 — starting as early as January 2024.
“We said were going to do it, said it would take a few years, we are committed to doing it,” Newsom said at a news conference Monday.
However, not everyone is on board with the idea.
Congressman Darrel Issa criticized the plan, saying “Gavin Newsom sees the tax dollars of hardworking Californians as his political slush fund and legal residents as undeserving of a respite from his nonstop pandering to special interests. The people of our state deserve so much better.”
Newsom plans to kickstart the program with $614 million with the price rising to more than $2 billion every year after. At this point, it’s unclear how Newsom plans to pay for the additional health care costs.