A recent news article has reported on a glaring budget liability heading into the new fiscal year as a program that provides free healthcare for undocumented immigrants has ballooned out of control to the tune of $1 billion.
In 2020, Illinois implemented the Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults and Seniors, a program that gave Medicaid-type coverage for noncitizens 65 years or older. Since then, the program has expanded to include those 42 and older.
In its first fiscal year, the program exceeded its entire year’s appropriation within the first month of implementation. This trend has only increased. Currently, FY23 spending is estimated to be $567.6 million, over three times the budgeted amount of $150 million. The disparity between budgeted and actual spending is expected to continue as the state is now projecting a total cost next fiscal year of $990 million, leaving a program deficit of $770 million.
Illinois taxpayers are completely on the hook for this program as there is no matching federal funding like there is for Medicaid since it covers noncitizens. Senate Republicans criticized the program saying the state’s priorities are backwards. They point to the fact that the state has failed some of its most vulnerable citizens, such as largely underfunding services to the developmentally disabled by over half a billion dollars over three years.
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