Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed state-funded health coverage for 138,000 undocumented young people and a reinstatement of a mandate that everyone buy insurance or face fines.
Newsom also proposed giving subsidies to middle-class families that make too much to qualify them under former President Barack Obama's health care law. He signed an order giving the state more bargaining power in negotiating prescription drug prices. And he sent a letter to President Donald Trump and congressional leaders seeking more authority over federal health care dollars and policies.
Newsom was elected following a campaign that leaned heavily on his promise to provide health coverage to everyone. His actions hours after he took the oath of office take a step in that direction but the $760 million price tag will require approval from the Democratically controlled Legislature. California has a projected surplus of $15 billion.
Medi-Cal, the state's version of Medicaid, is jointly funded by the state and federal government and provides coverage to one in three Californians. California uses state money to extend Medi-Cal coverage to people living in the country illegally up to age 19. Newsom proposes pushing back the cutoff to age 26, covering an additional 138,000 people at a cost of about $260 million a year, according to Newsom's spokesman, Nathan Click. His order directs state agencies to explore letting others, including employers and private insurers, join the state's purchasing pool.
With files from the Associated Press
Michelle Faust Raghavan, health care reporter at KPCC
Avik Roy, president of The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, a non-profit think tank; the policy editor at Forbes and former policy advisor to Marco Rubio, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney; he tweets @avik