Newsom Accused Of Betraying Disabled Immigrants

Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

( – California Governor Gavin Newsom has committed to not balancing the state’s budget by withdrawing health insurance from economically disadvantaged adults living in the U.S. without legal status, a stance he firmly supports. However, his recent decision to cut an essential health benefit for certain low-income immigrants with disabilities has drawn criticism from his supporters, accusing him of reneging on his promises.

Historically, California led the way by offering free health insurance to all low-income adults, regardless of immigration status. This significant initiative, completed in January, extended Medicaid eligibility to over a million people, many of whom had no prior health insurance coverage.

Amidst a looming $45 billion deficit, Newsom’s new proposal aims to eliminate state funding for in-home supportive services for some undocumented immigrants with disabilities. This service includes assistance with daily activities like cooking and cleaning, helping them avoid institutional care. While the cut would save approximately $94 million, affecting less than 3,000 of the over 15 million enrolled in Medi-Cal, it would prevent future eligibilities, which has sparked considerable opposition.

Critics, including David Kane from the Western Center on Law and Poverty and Ronald Coleman Baeza of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, have openly criticized the move, comparing it to past exclusionary policies. State Senator Maria Elena Durazo also expressed concerns over the discriminatory implications of such a policy shift.

The in-home supportive services program, which has seen a 6% increase in caregiver wages since 2014, has become more costly. The program allows beneficiaries to employ caregivers, often relatives, providing crucial financial support to families. For instance, Mayde Pineda, who assists her mother Marvin Estela Pineda, an immigrant from El Salvador now blind due to glaucoma, relies on this income to support her family while pursuing her education.

The California Department of Social Services has pledged to minimize adverse effects by guiding affected individuals towards alternative government-funded programs. Despite these efforts, Newsom’s proposed cuts are part of broader budgetary constraints he faces, challenging his progressive credentials and potentially affecting his national political ambitions. As he deals with these issues, he remains a figure of both national attention and local scrutiny, especially as negotiations with other state leaders and legislators continue to evolve.

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