Virginia Democrats are pushing to expand state-funded health insurance to illegal immigrant children with a critical committee vote scheduled for Thursday.
The Senate bill, named the “Cover All Kids” Act by proponents, seeks to provide illegal immigrant children access to a “state-funded comprehensive health care coverage” program with eligibility requirements similar to the state’s Medicaid program.
The bill specifically targets individuals in the commonwealth under 19 years of age who are not covered by a group health plan or insurance coverage. It includes the language, “but for their immigration status would be eligible for medical assistance services,” which would expand access to illegal immigrant children.
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“Because of President Biden’s open-border policy, every state is now a border state––including Virginia,” State Sen. Glen Sturtevant, a Republican, told Digital. “Meanwhile, Virginia Democrats in the General Assembly are making every effort to undermine legal immigration and incentivize illegal immigration into the commonwealth.”
“This session, Virginia Democrats have introduced bills that directly incentivize illegal immigration,” Sturtevant said. “They want to grant illegal immigrants driver’s licenses that are valid for up to eight years. Now, they’re also working to divert limited resources from low-income Virginians to pay for healthcare for illegal immigrants. That will cost Virginia taxpayers more than $100 million just in this decade.”
“These bad policies jeopardize not just Virginia’s healthcare system but create perverse incentives that illegal immigrants will see as a green light to travel to Virginia for free schooling, driver’s licenses, and now, free healthcare,” Sturtevant continued. “We have seen the mess that sanctuary city policies have created in places like Chicago and New York. We must protect the rule of law in Virginia and ensure that Virginia citizens come first.”
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The “Cover All Kids” legislation would expand coverage to uninsured illegal immigrant children in Virginia who are part of families at 205% of the federal poverty level. The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, which supports the legislation, estimated this to be $50,963 for a family of three.
The bill’s advocates say that twelve other states – California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington – and Washington, D.C., similarly use or plan on using state funds to cover illegal immigrant children and Virginia should follow in their footsteps.
They also argue that children under Medicaid fare better in life.
“Every child throughout the Commonwealth, regardless of income, immigration status, and background should have access to quality, comprehensive healthcare,” Virginia state Sen. Ghazala Hashmi, a Democrat, said of the effort. “We know that a healthy childhood leads to better health, education, and economic outcomes for children and their families.”
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“With the Cover All Kids Act, we are sending a strong message that Virginia will invest in the future of each and every child,” she added.
The bill is up for a key committee vote in Virginia’s General Assembly on Thursday.