California immigrant kids gain state-funded health care

May 16, 2016 5:36 PM by News Staff

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California children and teens who were brought illegally to the United States are gaining access to publicly funded health care.

California on Monday began allowing young people to sign up for the state's health care program for the poor without regard to their immigration status.

State officials expect as many as 185,000 children under age 19 to sign up for Medi-Cal in the first year - about three-quarters of the estimated 250,000 who are eligible.

Health care and immigrant-rights advocates say the expanded coverage shows California cares about all children regardless of their immigration status.

Critics say the policy distracts from the needs of American citizens and encourages people to immigrate illegally to California.

The coverage is expected to cost the state about $188 million the first year.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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