The Medicaid initiative is part of the Democrat's suggested $213 billion California Blueprint strategy to battle the state's "existential threats," including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, homelessness, cost of living, and public safety.
"We said we were going to do it. We said it was going to take a few years, but we're committed to doing it," he said during a press conference on Monday. "It means full-scope Medi-Cal, including long-term care, IHSS, behavioral health to all low-income Californians."
An analysis issued by the University of California, Berkeley's Labor Center projected about 3.2 million Californians would be uninsured in 2022. About 1.2 million of them are assumed to be illegal immigrants, and most of the rest are eligible for some form of healthcare coverage in the state. One estimate said it would cost about $2.4 billion a year to cover the state's illegal immigrant population.
If passed by the state Legislature, Newsom's program would allow illegal immigrants to get abortions using Medi-Cal funding. Medi-Cal is the state's Medicaid program that provides financial assistance for healthcare for low-income individuals.
Newsom said his suggestion for the fiscal year 2022-2023 is a 9.1 percent increase from the previous fiscal year's budget, stressing the budget proposal is balanced for the next fiscal year and the next three years.
He claimed the budget was supported by a projected $45.7 billion surplus for the next fiscal year. The California Legislative Analyst's Office estimated in November that the next fiscal year's surplus will be much lower at $31 billion. Newsom's office uses a different definition of what counts as a surplus, according to the Associated Press.
Other initiatives in Newsom's proposal include an increased $2 billion in funding for housing, clearing encampments, and mental health services. He also budgeted funding to improve the state's response to droughts, wildfires, and other natural disasters.
"California is a model for the nation on how we can confront our greatest existential threats and make historic investments in our future," Newsom said.
On Monday, Newsom additionally offered spending $648 million to support wildland firefighters and buy more helicopters and bulldozers, plus another $1.2 billion on top of the current budget year’s $1.5 billion for forest management.
Another $750 million would go to drought relief, on top of the current budget year’s $5.2 billion water package.
Newsom pledged to spend $300 million on boosting law enforcement efforts to combat retail theft and another $2.7 billion on Coronavirus testing and hospital staffing.