Illinois Democrats continue effort to expand $1.1 billion program for undocumented immigrant healthcare
SPRINGFIELD, IL… As Title 42 expires and thousands amass at the United States border with Mexico, State Senator Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) is highlighting the ballooning cost of a billion-dollar program that provides healthcare to undocumented adults in Illinois.
“Instead of using our state’s unexpected revenue and pandemic-era federal dollars to assist priorities that everyone can agree with, Illinois Democrats couldn’t help themselves from going on a massive spending-spree and creating new programs like the Health Benefits for Immigrant Senior and Adults programs,” said Senator Bryant. “These programs are now costing Illinois taxpayers more than a billion dollars– a billion dollars that could’ve and should’ve gone toward essentially services for Illinois citizens like our state’s underfunded developmentally disabled community.”
The Health Benefits for Immigrant Seniors program was implemented in 2020 to provide benefits to undocumented immigrants aged 65 and older. It has since been incrementally expanded to include individuals aged 42 and up and renamed Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults (HBIA).
Because Democrats relied on an estimate provided by advocates that grossly underestimated the number of people who would enroll – and failed to verify that it would be accurate – it exceeded its yearly appropriation in the first month it was in place. As Democrats have expanded the program, that trend has only continued, and next year it will cost taxpayers $1.1 billion. Governor Pritzker, who boasted about Illinois’ status as the only state in the nation offering healthcare to undocumented immigrants at this scale, is now walking back that enthusiasm as costs continue to rise.
Despite ballooning costs, Democratic legislators continue pushing to further expand the program. Senate Bill 122 would expand taxpayer-funded coverage to all undocumented adults. This expansion would add an additional $380 million to the program’s cost, bringing the total tab for taxpayers to nearly $1.5 billion.
As pandemic-era funding dries up and the economy slows down, Senator Bryant is urging Democrat colleagues to consider budgetary pressures Illinois faces and be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars.
“It is time for Illinois Democrats to take a step back and recognize just how out of touch their priorities are from the priorities of the people of our state,” continued Sen. Bryant. “We should be focusing our time and efforts on assisting our state’s most vulnerable citizens and responsibly spending their taxpayer dollars.”