Newsom calls for health care for illegal immigrants and return of insurance mandate

Gavin Newsom

Shortly after being sworn in as California governor on Monday, Gavin Newsom announced sweeping healthcare proposals that include expanding Medi-Cal to cover young illegal immigrant adults and reinstating a health insurance mandate.

Newsom campaigned on a platform of universal healthcare and said the issue would be among his top priorities as governor. His announcement was characterized as a first step toward universal healthcare.

“Far away judges and politicians may try to turn back our progress. But we will never waiver in our pursuit of guaranteed healthcare for all Californians,” Newsom said during his inaugural address that preceded the announcement on healthcare policy.

If enacted, California would become the first state to cover illegal immigrants younger than 26 through Medi-Cal. A 2018 legislative proposal estimated the cost of doing so at $250 million a year. The cost would have to be entirely covered by California, despite the mix of federal and state funds that typically make up Medi-Cal funding.

Newsom’s proposal to create an individual mandate follows President Donald Trump eliminating the federal health insurance mandate that was part of Obamacare. The governor’s proposal calls for requiring all consumers in California to carry health insurance.

The proposal also outlines subsidy increases for middle-class families to help those who need health insurance obtain it.

Also on Monday, Newsom signed executive orders to consolidate California’s prescription drug purchases into a state-run program and to create a surgeon general position that would examine health disparities before they manifest. Additionally, Newsom sent a letter to Congress and the White House requesting legislative changes that would allow California to have the regulatory freedom to overhaul its healthcare system and move toward single payer.

Newsom’s proposed state budget, which will be released Thursday, will include some of the new healthcare proposals.