Newsom Vows to Add Illegal Immigrants to Calif. State Health Plan

California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom speaks after being elected in Los Angeles, Calif., November 6, 2018. (Mike Blake/REUTERS)

Just hours after being sworn in as the 40th governor of California on Monday, Gavin Newsom promised to expand the pool of illegal immigrants eligible to receive government-sponsored health care as part of his mission to provide “sanctuary to all who seek it” in the state.

After his swearing in Monday afternoon, Newsom’s office released a list of priorities the former lieutenant governor plans to pursue as part of his first state budget. Included on the list is a proposal to expand the pool of Californians covered by Medi-Cal, the state’s version of Medicaid, to include illegal immigrants ages 19 to 26. (Undocumented-immigrant minors are already eligible to receive coverage under Medi-Cal.)

If passed by the state legislature, the ambitious initiative would make California “the first state in the nation to cover young undocumented adults through a state Medicaid program,” according to a Monday release from the governor’s office.

In his address to supporters at the state capitol in Sacramento following his swearing in, Newsom laid out his vision to expand California’s sprawling welfare state so that it can provide health insurance to the state’s roughly 40 million residents.

The budget released by Newsom’s office after the address lays out a universal-health-care system in the mold of Obamacare, the creation of which would require implementing a tax on Californians who choose to go without insurance. That tax on the uninsured, known as an individual mandate, was removed from the Affordable Care Act by a Republican-controlled Congress last year — a development Newsom vowed to correct by implementing a statewide individual mandate as part of the new state budget due out later this week.

Newsom’s intention to govern in direct opposition to Washington was apparent throughout his Monday address as he made clear he would take up the mantle of his predecessor, former governor Jerry Brown, as a leader of blue-state resistance to the Trump administration.

“People’s lives, freedom, security, the water we drink, the air we breathe — they all hang in the balance,” Newsom said. “The country is watching us. The world is waiting on us. The future depends on us. And we will seize this moment.”

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