Despite Mounting Debts, Illinois Moves to Give Medicaid Benefits to Illegal Aliens



What better time is there to consider giving Medicaid benefits to illegal aliens than when your state is facing a projected $7 billion budget shortfall and debt and pension costs rising faster than any state in the nation? To anyone besides Democrats in Illinois’ state legislature, it would be never.

Not only did the Illinois General Assembly allocate taxpayer funds for this foolish endeavor, the provision was sneaked into a 465-page budget measure during a special session to address needs resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. The legislation will award coverage to illegal immigrants over the age of 65 who also earn less than $12,670.

Assistant Majority Leader Tony Munoz (D-Chicago) suggested the expansion was needed because illegal immigrant seniors have “been hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak” and “that’s why it was important to expand Medicaid to undocumented seniors who have few resources available.”

Munoz’s argument makes little sense since the benefit will begin taking effect on July 1, 2021 – more than a year away. The real reason behind forcing Illinois taxpayers to foot the bill for illegal alien benefits has less to do with the pandemic and more to do with precedent.

Rep. Delia Ramirez, D-Chicago, told a local news channel, “We are the first in the nation [to use Medicaid funds for illegal alien seniors]and this will open doors to every single state to say if Illinois can make this happen.”

State Rep. Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) criticized the entire budget, but had particular concerns about the Medicaid provision. 

“None of it makes sense when you consider that it’s the federal government’s job to be working to fix the immigration issue. For Illinois to be deciding to go into the immigration policy business is not what was intended by the Constitution. Not only is that totally inappropriate, but you have to ask yourself why lawmakers in Springfield would be pushing to put even more burden on taxpayers,” McDermed lamented.

Although the legislation has yet to be signed by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, his well-established record of spending state funds to create rights for illegal immigrants makes it likely he will sign it.

For example, last June, Pritzker signed a law making Illinois the first state to ban private detention centers. Later that month, he signed into law the RISE Act, which allows illegal alien students to apply for state financial aid, such as the Monetary Award Program (MAP). The law also created an alternative form to the federal Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, which is required to be eligible for an MAP grant. This was done to appease special interest groups who raised concerns that providing the federal government information about illegal aliens would put them at risk of deportation.

Illinois has pursued a reckless fiscal policy for years and its latest actions should be even more justification for the federal government and Congress to turn away when the state comes begging for a bailout.

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Jennifer joined FAIR as Web Content Writer in 2017 and brings to the role extensive communications and media background. She began her career as a policy research analyst on multiple national and state political campaigns before entering journalism. In addition to spending over a decade writing for several broadcast and print news outlets, Jennifer directed communications strategy for a member of Congress and a military nonprofit.

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