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Rep. Ramirez questions state's estimates on health benefits to noncitizens

Congresswoman Delia Ramirez
Congresswoman Delia Ramirez

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Budget negotiations for next fiscal year continue behind closed doors in Springfield. Part of the conversation includes the costs of expanding health care benefits to qualifying noncitizens.

Cost estimates for the healthcare program for qualifying residents 42 and older regardless of their immigration status are over a billion dollars. That’s led Republican lawmakers to oppose the program as the state revenue estimates are much lower than previously projected.

Congresswoman Delia Ramirez isn’t part of the negotiations at the state level, but questions the Governor’s estimates. As a former state representative, she advocated for the program that provides benefits similar to Medicaid to qualifying noncitizens including DACA recipients and permanent residents who've resided in the U.S. under five years.

“We have to make sure that we are protecting something so critical like providing health care coverage to people, regardless of legal status, we have to also get the numbers correct. I believe that right now, there are numbers that are thrown in. Sometimes we do that in budgeting, to create fear.”

The state’s estimates come from a consulting group commissioned by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Report authors acknowledge "substantial uncertainty" in the numbers.

Capitol News Illinois reports that Governor JB Pritzker is looking at options to alter the program to cut costs like re-examining reimbursement rates or possible copays based on income.

A Chicago native, Maria earned a Master's Degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield . Maria is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America. RFA is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities. It is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, a nonprofit journalism organization. Un residente nativo de Chicago, Maria se graduó de University of Illinois Springfield con una licenciatura superior en periodismo de gobierno.