The State Senate Democrats in Albany have passed a bill aimed at providing affordable healthcare to immigrants. This comes after the federal government agreed to provide cash, allowing the state to support more people. The bill has been controversial, with some politicians arguing that the money should be spent on helping citizens or New Yorkers who live in the state legally. However, State Senate Health Committee Chairman Gustavo Rivera has argued that these people are already in the state and are in need of care. He said that given the opportunity to receive federal funding without costing the state anything, it was logical to support the bill.
The total cost to federal taxpayers is at least $1 billion a year. State senator Stephen Rose argued that the money still comes from taxpayers’ money, even if it comes from the federal government. Despite this, Washington and Colorado have already expanded medical coverage for immigrants with federal exemptions.
Governor Kathy Hochul has voiced her support for providing low-cost healthcare in the past. However, she is considering formally asking the federal government to waive immigrants’ health insurance coverage with federal funds. The waiver guarantees federal funding for five years starting in 2024, according to a letter from the federal Department of Health and Human Services to Rivera.
Supporters say the bill could save the state and local governments about $400 million a year by cutting costs for people who need urgent care because they have no other means of getting medical care. However, Republican senators expressed concern about the program’s potential costs if federal funding were exhausted, and the morality of providing social services to people without legal permission to stay in the county.
Overall, the bill has been well-received by many, with State Senate Health Committee Chairman Gustavo Rivera defending it on the floor Thursday night against Republican attacks. The federal funding will support at least 240,000 immigrants, providing them with low-cost healthcare.