In a privilege not granted to most Americans, illegal immigrants in Illinois between the ages of 55 and 64 can now receive taxpayer funded healthcare.
On July 1, the program will expand to cover eligible illegal immigrants between the ages of 42 to 54 as well.
The initial program was approved by state lawmakers in 2021 and has now gone into effect.
Illegal immigrants who qualify will not have to pay for doctor and hospital visits, lab tests, physical and occupational therapy, mental health, substance abuse disorder services, dental and vision services, or prescription drugs.
“Implementing more equitable health care coverage across the state is central to HFS’ mission, which means increasing access to quality health care choices for all Illinois residents, regardless of their immigration status,” Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Director Theresa Eagleson told local station WSIL. “Amid a pandemic that has disproportionately affected older adults and people of color, efforts to remove barriers and create a more equitable health care system are more important as ever.”
In addition to the age requirement, the person must be an illegal immigrant or have been a legal permanent resident of the United States for less than five years. They must also have a household income is at or below $18,754 for one person; $25,268 for two people.
“Immigrant families face many challenges in their lives, and to know that their loved one may now have access to health care services will give families hope for a better quality of life in the state they’ve chosen as their home,” said HFS Assistant Director Jenny Aguirre. “Everyone deserves to have a healthier future, and I’m so proud that in Illinois, we consider health care access and equity a top priority.”
Democrats in the state are already planning to try and expand the program to cover all illegal immigrants in the state.
“The pandemic has shown us that it is critical for everyone to have access to high-quality health care, particularly as they age,” said Rep. Delia Ramirez, D-Chicago. “The Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults program providing coverage to noncitizen adults aged 55 and over is a significant step toward a more equitable health care system in Illinois. I look forward to working with the administration as we build on this successful program until all immigrant adults qualify for these benefits.”