LOS ANGELES (CN) – California Governor Gavin Newsom met with students at a South Los Angeles community college to ask them if they are afraid of losing their health insurance coverage, part of a statewide tour to promote new health care policy.
The trek across the Golden State is Newsom’s sell of a proposed health care package that will expand eligibility for the state’s version of the Affordable Care Act. The plan includes allowing young adult undocumented immigrants to receive coverage up to age 26 under the state’s subsidized low-income health care program.
Newsom tried to broach the topic of politics and health care coverage in a roundtable discussion at Los Angeles Southwest College.
“The president of the United States wants to eliminate – he very aggressively is pursuing to eliminate your health coverage. That’s a big part of our national debate,” said Newsom. “You can’t express that you care about people and then try to take away their protections while offering nothing in the alternative.”
Nursing student Hector Godoy, 22, said he did not think about health care coverage when he arrived in the United States at age 17.
“My parents always took care of me and so I never thought about it,” Godoy said during the discussion. He underwent an emergency appendectomy last year, and while his mother made sure he had emergency medical insurance beforehand he could not afford follow-up care.
“I did not have no checkups. I think making sure a check-in with a doctor would have been fine, but it never happened.”
Newsom also asked biology student Leslie Alamo Tapia, 19, if she was afraid of losing her medical coverage as the Trump administration seeks to strike down the Affordable Care Act.
Like Godoy, Tapia arrived in the United States just a few years ago with her family from Michoacán, Mexico.
After the roundtable Tapia said, “I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. The governor’s plan, what he’s talking about does give me hope. It’s something else that’s being done.”
California’s recently revised budget estimates residents will pay over $300 million in fines for not having insurance in 2020-2021. Nearly 600,000 California residents paid over $440 million in penalties to the federal government in 2016, most with annual incomes under $50,000.
Under the proposed plan, Californians will have to purchase health insurance if they’re not eligible for a subsidized plan or face a fine. According to Newsom, premiums in California shot up because the health insurance mandate was eliminated by the Trump administration.
Shortly after Trump took office, 8.1% of Golden State residents under the age of 65 did not have health insurance – slightly under the national average of 8.7%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.