Our View | Who Will Pay the Tab for Illegal Residents’ Care?

By The Signal Editorial Board

Suppose you have a choice to help two children in need. One of them is a perfect stranger, and the other is your own flesh and blood, your child, your son or daughter.

Assume their needs are roughly equal and they would face similar consequences without your help.

Who are you helping first? Would you protect the stranger at the expense of your own kid? Of course not. That’s not to say you have no compassion for the stranger, and it’s not to say you wouldn’t help the stranger if you could help both kids. But if you had to choose one, who’s your top priority?

It’s your kid. That’s a no-brainer. You wouldn’t dream of helping the stranger if it meant jeopardizing one of your own.

Yet, in California’s fervor to do anything and everything to help those living in the United States illegally, that’s exactly what will happen under the budget approved Thursday by the state Legislature.

Assuming Gov. Gavin Newsom approves the $214.8 million budget — which was expected but had not yet happened as of press time for this writing — California will become the first state to provide taxpayer-funded health insurance for some of those who are in the United States illegally.

And how are our hyper-compassionate Democratic legislative supermajority and Gov. Newsom planning to pay for it?

By taxing legal residents, our own citizens, who can’t afford health insurance. Of course. That’s how twisted this state’s priorities have become. It’s like California has fallen into Alice’s rabbit hole and Gov. Newsom is our own Mad Hatter.

California won’t even consider helping the federal government enforce immigration law, even if it means protecting violent criminals from deportation. Californians pay tens of millions of dollars every year to help pay for illegal immigrants to go to college while our own children face a lifetime burden of student loan debt. 

And now, we tax our citizens who can’t afford health care so we can provide health insurance for illegal immigrants. In California, that’s what passes for making sense.

Yes, the illegal immigrants who will benefit, in the 19 to 25 age group, are largely comprised of people who were brought here as children by their parents. So a large percentage of them did not willfully break the law when they immigrated. They deserve compassion.

Yet, it’s still wrong for California to put them in line for health insurance on the backs of our own citizens in need. 

Here’s how the $98 million illegal immigrant Medi-Cal health care tab will be picked up not only by you, the taxpayer, but specifically by taxpayers who themselves have difficulty affording health care: Remember the Obamacare provision that imposed a tax on those who don’t have health care? Thankfully, that provision was ditched under the 2017 Republican-led tax code overhaul.

But California is bringing it back at the state level, because in Sacramento, no idea is a bad idea if it benefits illegal immigrants at the expense of taxpaying citizens. So, under the new budget, those who do not have health care will be taxed, and the proceeds will be used to insure illegal immigrants ages 19-25.

And don’t kid yourself into thinking this will be the last of it. This is the kind of thing California’s Legislature will expand upon in the future. 

As the Associated Press reported, “The proposal has angered Republican lawmakers, who argue it’s not fair to tax people in the country legally for not buying health insurance while making people living in the country illegally eligible for taxpayer-funded health insurance. ‘I just don’t get the prioritization,’ Republican Sen. John Moorlach of Costa Mesa said ahead of the vote. He noted he legally immigrated to the U.S. from the Netherlands in 1960.”

That’s it in a nutshell. And, this isn’t about refusing emergency care to anyone, regardless of immigration status. Of course, no one should be denied real emergency medical care. 

When anyone with an emergency medical situation visits an emergency room seeking treatment, they should receive it, whether they are here legally or not.

Rather, this is about priorities, and taxing citizens to pay to insure non-citizens. Guess which segments of our population are the ones most likely to be hit with that tax? 

Certainly not the most affluent among us. The affluent can afford insurance. It’ll be the low- to middle-income people living paycheck to paycheck, the people who choose food and rent over health insurance, who shoulder the burden.

Our own citizens. The ones who need help. If we have $98 million of their money to spend on health insurance, we should be spending it to help California’s citizens who can’t afford health care, or food, or rent, or an education. 

And yes, while subsidized insurance for middle-income Californians is also part of the Newsom-Democrats’ plan, the fact remains they intend to take money out of the pockets of Californians who can’t afford insurance and funnel it toward insurance for illegal residents.

Compassion is one thing. But California’s priorities are upside down. 

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