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Despite partial freeze of migrant health care subsidies, some worry about future costs

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(The Center Square) – Even with part of the program of Illinois taxpayers subsidizing the health care costs of migrants being suspended for the new fiscal year, some worry about the message being sent to others.

With Saturday’s start of the budget year, the health care subsidies for undocumented migrants age 42 to 64 is suspended. Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that’s to keep in line with the state budget’s cost of $550 million.

“To provide this program for 63,000 people in the state of Illinois and we’re continuing to do that, in fact there’s room for a few more within the program and within the budget,” Pritzker said last week.

Pritzker said the program covers “free” prescriptions and doctor visits.

Tovia Siegel, with Healthy Illinois Campaign, advocates for all undocumented migrants to get taxpayer subsidized health coverage.

“We think that the program should be fully implemented now and then we’ll continue advocating for future expansion,” Siegel told The Center Square.

Pritzker said it’s his goal to get “universal health care,” and his steps are moving in that direction.

“And I wish that we could provide health care literally for everybody in this country and we ought to be able to do that,” Pritzker said. “But we need to work toward it ratably every year as I have as governor of the state of Illinois.”

State Sen. Jason Plummer, R-Edwardsville, said the issue goes further than the impacts on hospitals and taxpayers that will have to cover the costs one way or another.

“It’s to what message we’re sending to various populations and the message Illinois has consistently sent is ‘come to Illinois, we’ll pay for everything,’” Plummer told The Center Square.

Illinois taxpayers began subsidizing the cost of health care for undocumented migrants 65 and older in 2020 and expanded that to those 42 and older in 2022. Pritzker suspended the program for the latter cohort with the start of the budget July 1.

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