California’s Budget Proposal Would Expand Health Care To Some Undocumented Immigrants

California lawmakers are poised to offer low-income young adults living in the country illegally access to full health benefits, putting the state on track to become the first in the country to expand its insurance program to all working poor under the age of 26 regardless of immigration status.

The Democratic-controlled state legislature agreed on Sunday to allow 19 to 25-year-old undocumented residents to receive Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance program partly funded by federal dollars.

Gov. Gavin Newsom applauded negotiation efforts by committee chairs Sen. Holly Mitchell and Assembly member Phil Ting in a statement, saying the budget — which includes a $21.5 billion surplus for the state — “is structurally balanced and invests in a California for All.”

State officials estimate the health care program would provide coverage for about 138,000 residents at a cost of $98 million in the first year. The vast majority — 75% — are already covered by the Medi-Cal system, and are either receiving restricted-scope benefits or services under SB 75, the Governor’s Budget Summary states.

Efforts by some Democrats to include undocumented seniors in the plan were rejected by Gov. Gavin Newsom and other legislators.