California lawmakers are expected to approve within days a plan to expand Medicaid coverage to all residents under 26, including illegal aliens. The plan is part of a broader state budget that also includes funding the expansion by taxing those without health insurance, effectively re-instituting the Obamacare individual mandate at the state level.
Whether they have health insurance or not, it's a safe bet this plan will cost California taxpayers. "The cost estimate is 98 million dollars a year, but as we've seen with these things in the past, it's going to be a lot bigger than that," says Chuck DeVore, Vice President of Initiatives for the Texas Public Policy Foundation. "It will also serve as a magnet for additional people to move to California."
As expensive as this plan is, it could have been much worse had California Gov. Gavin Newsom not rejected another plan from Democrats. "The Legislature wanted to cover everybody up to the age of 65, basically the point at which Medicare kicks in," says DeVore.
The move also comes as homelessness and poverty continue to rise in the Golden State. Cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland have seen their homeless populations grow rapidly in recent years while city leaders embrace sanctuary policies to protect illegal immigrants. "(Rising housing prices) make it virtually impossible for the middle class now to get into a house in California," says DeVore. "And with that housing crisis you're seeing increasing homelessness, and you're seeing a persistent ranking as America's number one state for poverty."