Calif. Taxpayers Reach into Wallet Again, This Time for Insurance for Minor Aliens

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

February 12, 2016

In 2014, a poll conducted by the immigrant advocacy group California Endowment claimed that a majority of California voters support giving health care coverage to aliens, including access to Medi-Cal. When read a statement that preventative health care coverage would reduce aliens’ emergency room usage and lower the associated costs, 86 percent of respondents approved.

Advocates’ push polls invariably find that Californians favor more entitlements for illegal immigrants even though they will have to fund them with their hard-earned taxpayer dollars. The polling questions are always framed in a way that makes it appear that the new entitlements will be good for all Californians in the long run – reduced Dream Act university tuition will produce a better educated work force, driver licenses will make the roads safer, and access to Medi-Cal will reduce reliance on emergency rooms.

Whether Californians have or will ever tangibly benefit is debatable. Beyond debate, however, is that state taxpayers subsidize the programs for which they pay, pay and pay some more.

Californians to subsidize health care
for illegal immigrant minors.

Last year, Governor Jerry Brown’s budget included a compromise agreement to provide Medi-Cal coverage for California’s illegal immigrant children, but not its adults. When Brown signed the budget, California’s minor alien population age 18 and under was estimated at 170,000, with coverage to cost approximately $142.8 million during fiscal 2016-2017. But, to the surprise of no one who studies California and its illegal immigrant entitlements, the eligibility total has recently been revised upward.

Mark Diel, executive director of the Sacramento-based California Coverage and Health Initiatives, said: “Oh, no, it’s going to be a lot more than that. We think the overall number will be more like 260,000 kids who will be eligible.” Assuming Diel’s math is correct, that would push the cost to more than $225 million annually.

While many of California’s poor citizens go wanting, the state’s illegal immigrant minors can apply for full Medi-Cal coverage in May.

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