Illinois Democrats continue effort to expand $1.1 billion program for undocumented immigrant healthcare
As Title 42 expires and thousands amass at the United States border with Mexico, State Senator Sue Rezin (R-Morris) is highlighting the ballooning cost of a billion-dollar program that provides healthcare to undocumented adults in Illinois.
“Illinois plans to allocate more than a billion dollars of Illinois taxpayer dollars towards healthcare services for undocumented immigrants during the upcoming fiscal year,” said Sen. Rezin. “The money spent on this program inevitably reduces funding and resources available for other crucial and essential programs for Illinois citizens, including services for our 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 the Super-Majority 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 the program has expanded, that trend has only continued, and next year it will cost taxpayers $1.1 billion. The Governor’s Administration, 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, legislators in the Super-Majority 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 Rezin is urging her colleagues to consider budgetary pressures Illinois faces and be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars.
“Unfortunately, the Super-Majority appears to have lost its way when it comes to what should be a priority for our state,” continued Sen. Rezin. “As elected officials, it is our duty to shift our focus towards prioritizes that fulfill our promises to our state’s most vulnerable communities.”