California Democrats frequently conflate “legal” and “illegal” immigrants when they debate legislation expanding government services to those in California illegally. When called out on this important distinction in the Senate Wednesday, they reacted with accusations of “racism, bigotry and xenophobia” when Senate Bill 29 was debated.
SB 29 by Sen. Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) would extend Medi-Cal eligibility to illegal immigrants, “a building block to universal healthcare in California.” Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program – government funded health insurance for those with low income or on welfare.
Durazo lamented that the people who “take care of our children, landscape our yards and pick the crops” are not treated as humans. “Undocumented adults make up 1o percent of our workforce. We all benefit when everyone is insured.”
“There has never been a harder path to citizenship than in the U.S. today,” said Sen. Ben Hueso (R-San Diego). “We treat them as criminals and then wonder why gangs spring up in our communities.”
Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Temecula), said a path to citizenship in the U.S. already exists. Stone said he was concerned because “we have a completely defunct Medi-Cal system.” Physicians won’t sign up to take on Medi-Cal patients because it costs them more to treat the low-income population that what doctors are paid in reimbursements.
Stone warned, “be careful to not show favoritism to people not here legally, than to people who are.”
“We are headed for the Individual Mandate, charging $695 for not having insurance, to lower class citizens in the state already living paycheck to paycheck,” Stone said. “We need to take care of Californians here legally first.” Stone said 25 percent of the nation’s homeless veterans live in California. “It is shameful that any veteran is homeless.”
Stone said what was happening at the U.S./Mexico border is not a migration; it is an “invasion of our country. There is only so much money to go around.” He added that those here legally should be the priority. “We are doing a disservice to the citizens,” Stone added.
The word “invasion” triggered a backlash from several Senate Democrats.
“I am never ceased to be amazed… I had to come to the California Legislature to hear some of the most racist banter in my life,” Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), said in response to Sen. Stone. She said using the word “invasion” to describe the border was “racist, bigoted and xenophobic.”
“Who is worthy?” Mitchell asked. “I’m not going to prioritize a veteran over anyone who is homeless.” Mitchell said she had a “visceral response” to the “visceral and aggressive” words like invasion. “The notion that one group of immigrants over another is worthy… who is worthy of the investment?” Mitchell asked. “Healthcare is a fundamental right.”
“But for their immigration status, they would qualify for this program,” Mitchell added.
“When it comes to healthcare, I find it offensive to misrepresent,” said Sen. Susan Rubio (D-San Gabriel Valley). “I stand before you as an undocumented, deported Senator. Healthcare is not permission to bash undocumented individuals.”
While the floor debates were going on, a rumor was started that as Sen. Stone was giving his opposition speech on SB 29, he made a “white power” fist. The rumor was attributed to Democrats. Sen. Stone, who is Jewish, can be seen in the video of the May 29 Senate Floor Session delivering his floor speech.
Health Care For All
During his speech on his new budget in January, Gov. Gavin Newsom already had unveiled his health care plan to continue and even expand the federal Affordable Care Act, to include and expand coverage for health care for illegal immigrants and give the state new powers to negotiate pharmaceutical drug prices. SB 29 is the legislation fulfilling his plan.
“It’s time for the individual mandate,” Newsom said. “The President is wrong, and California is right,” he said referring to Congress overturning the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, because it penalized people with a fine for not having health insurance. “The revenue it generates will be used to subsidize people in poverty. Then we can expand eligibility from 400 percent to 600 percent through Covered California,” he added. However, this will need legislation. As for conflicting with the federal government on this, Newsom said that the Trump Administration has granted some states waivers, and said he feels California could also receive one.
The $260 million required to cover this plan might have had state and federal governments help with the Medicaid costs, however, California would have to bear the full cost of covering the undocumented illegal population.
Read The Approach Gov. Newsom is Implementing to Achieve ‘Single Payer’ for more information about Gov. Newsom’s ;plan.