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Politics

California becomes first state to offer health benefits to young adults in country illegally

FILE - In this June 4, 2013, file photo, sign-carrying demonstrators representing doctors, hospitals
Cuts in state funding for Medi-Cal, California’s healthcare program for the most needy, were often criticized during rallies at the state Capitol like this one in 2013.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

California has become the first state to offer taxpayer-funded health benefits to young adults living in the country illegally.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law Tuesday that makes low-income adults age 25 and younger eligible for the state’s Medicaid program regardless of their immigration status.

State officials expect the plan to cover about 90,000 people and cost taxpayers $98 million. California already covers children ages 18 and younger regardless of immigration status.

The law will not give health insurance benefits to everyone 25 and younger, but only those whose income is low enough to qualify.

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Newsom and Democratic legislative leaders say they plan to further expand coverage to more adults in the years to come. President Trump has called the move “crazy.”

Advocates of the measure say it’s a way to improve the health of immigrants in the state by providing them with access to the medical care they need.

Many immigrants who are in the country illegally are already enrolled in some government-funded programs, but they only cover emergencies and pregnancies.

Democrats had pushed to expand the coverage to even more adults, but Newsom rejected the proposals, saying it would cost about $3.4 billion to provide coverage to all California adults living in the country illegally. But he has vowed to keep expanding coverage in future years.

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