California and US flags The move,part of California's drive to make sure all its residents havehealth coverage, does not come without opposition. (Photo:Shutterstock)

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Among its many firsts, California looks to be claiming a newone: the extension of health benefits to immigrants ages 19 to 25who are in the country illegally.

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Not everyone is happy with the plan, according to the Sacramento Bee, although perhaps not for the reasonsone might expect. While those against extending such benefits tothose who have not entered the U.S. legally are vocal in theiropposition, Republican lawmakers oppose the measure—part ofCalifornia's drive to make sure all its residents have healthcoverage—because part of the deal is to levy a tax on people in thestate who don't have health insurance.

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Related: California's Newsom proposes middle-income healthpremium subsidy

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According to the Sacramento Bee, the health care move is part of“a broader plan to spend $213 billion of state and federal taxmoney over the next year.” Legislative approval would see low-income adults aged of 19 and 25 who are in the state illegallyadded to its Medicaid program.

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Only that particular age group whose incomes are low enough toqualify would get those benefits, although the state Senate hadwanted adults 65 and older to be included; State Sen. Maria ElenaDurazo, D-Los Angeles, has proposed a bill to do just that. Withthe cost of the limited reach of the program expected to total $98million—it will cover about 90,000 people—the Newsom administrationfelt covering seniors too would be too expensive.

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Sen. Holly Mitchell, a Los Angeles Democrat who led the budgetnegotiations, said of the move, “California believes that health isa fundamental right.”

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But it's not just immigrant families who will benefit fromhealth coverage; the deal—the first of its kind in the country—alsoprovides help for middle-income families to pay their premiums. Afamily of four earning as much as six times the federal povertylevel, more than $150,000 a year, would be eligible for about $100a month in premium assistance.

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The overall budget, of which the deal is a part, still has to beapproved by the full state legislature, so it's not necessarily adone deal; in fact, Republicans on the negotiating committee votedagainst it, claiming it was unfair to provide coverage to illegalstate residents while taxing legal residents for not buyingcoverage.

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.