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California may no longer provide in-home assistants to illegal immigrants

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California health and labor advocates pushed back against California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal to cut in-home nursing and care assistance for illegal immigrants from this year’s budget, which has cut an estimated $73 billion deficit to $7 billion.

California’s In-Home Supportive Services, which provides in-home personal care and assistance for elderly and disabled individuals with 283 hours per month of assistance with tasks such as bathing, dressing, housework, and meal preparation. The governor proposed spending $9 billion on IHHS for fiscal year 2024-2025, a $1 billion increase from the year prior. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, a state-funded, non-partisan agency, notes beneficiaries are “responsible for hiring and supervising a paid IHSS provider — oftentimes a family member or relative” at an estimated $17.95 per hour.

While Medi-Cal was expanded to cover all illegal immigrants starting in January of this year, the governor’s proposed cuts would maintain said individuals’ access to most Medi-Cal services but drop IHHS coverage provided through Medi-Cal.

“This proposal is both harmful and xenophobic, potentially pushing immigrant families deeper into poverty,” wrote the left-leaning California Budget and Policy Center in opposition to the governor’s proposal. “These cuts could also lead to increased state spending on nursing home care in the long run.”

The California Department of Social Services, which administers IHHS, told the Los Angeles Times just 3,000 illegal immigrants have been authorized for IHHS, and that 1,500 are receiving IHHS program benefits.

With state leaders aiming to expand Medi-Cal to all Californians, system beneficiaries are already struggling to find doctors to treat them as the state faces doctor and care provider shortages.

California’s expansion of Medi-Cal coverage to all illegal immigrants between 26 and 50 years old is expected to add 700,000 beneficiaries at a cost of $3.4 billion per year. Newsom has vowed to fund the program expansion despite the state’s budget crisis.

“We also want to maintain our health care expansion across the board, regardless of ability to pay, regardless of pre-existing conditions and your immigration status,” Newsom said in his revised May budget proposal.

With one in four Californians expected to be 60 or older by 2030, costs for IHHS and other programs for elderly Californians are expected to increase as relatively fewer workers are paying taxes to fund these programs. Experts say this may not be sustainable, especially with declining births leading to fewer future workers.

“When enough people actually move out of the state and stop generating personal income taxes and when real estate starts to flatten and then decline, things start to happen with revenues at the state and local level,” government and pension finance expert and former state Sen. John Moorlach told The Center Square earlier this year. “Cuts are going to have to go to this impacted demographic group of seniors and welfare — that’s the obvious first cut.”