California’s health bill could lead to welfare casualty

By Ryan Yaoran Yu Source:Global Times Published: 2018/6/14 21:38:41

California's State Senate passed the Healthy California Act (SB-562), a single-payer insurance measure at the beginning of June that aims to provide Medicare for everyone living in the sanctuary state.

The new bill, first introduced by state Senator Ricardo Lara, would provide free healthcare coverage for undocumented immigrants. The measure places the West Coast state one step closer to becoming the first in the country to offer free health coverage for illegal residents. Analysts have calculated the health measure would run the state $400 billion, a significant jump from its current $180 billion annual price tag.

Proponents of the measure say part of the state's multi-billion-dollar budget surplus for 2018 could cover the expense, while opponents argue that many residents would pack up and leave due to excessive tax increases.

And once again, Californians are divided, just as they have been on sanctuary laws and the gas tax.

Realistically speaking, California cannot afford such an ambitious plan. A sanctuary state that would provide free healthcare for all would quickly turn into a near-utopia for undocumented immigrants, and all of it made possible by taxpayers who struggle to survive in a state that is now home to the world's fifth largest economy.

Given the state's ongoing war with the Trump administration, it would be more than a wild dream if California received Federal aid for the healthcare measure. The state is going to have to rely on its own cash reserves.

In 2015, California passed the Health for All Kids Act to provide undocumented minors with access to coverage through Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program.

After the bill was passed, California became the biggest state to use state-only funding that provided coverage for all children regardless of immigration status. Meanwhile, California already provides low-cost emergency care, pregnancy-related services, and if needed, long-term care for illegal immigrants.

Illegal immigrants can ask for help from community health centers which are funded in part by Federal grant money that provides primary healthcare, dental, mental health and pharmacy services.

From a humanitarian perspective, illegal immigrants have every right to receive proper medical care when in need. Unfortunately, such medical care is just not rational and balanced in California.

California already carries some of the nation's heaviest tax burdens and is home to the highest state income tax rate. With an exorbitant cost of living and rising home prices, it gets harder every year just to live and work in the Golden State.

Increased taxes have forced middle-class residents to move elsewhere. In April, two leading economists, Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that some 400,000 upper-class residents would leave over the next three years.

So, this begs the question: How would the state fund such generous health coverage without its upper-tier taxpayers? 

Free healthcare for undocumented and illegal immigrants would reinforce sanctuary stability and attract greater numbers from that demographic, but the price tag would simply be too big to cover. 



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