In May, New York’s State Assembly approved a massive single-payer health care bill that would make the state the first in the nation to effectively eliminate private health insurance, but one key provision in the text could also dramatically increase the size of the state’s illegal immigration population.
The legislation, titled the New York Health Act, would provide zero-cost health care coverage to every person in New York. There would be no out-of-pocket fees, network restrictions or other requirements.
The estimated cost of the plan varies, but many conservative and libertarian analysts believe it will substantially increase the required tax burden. For instance, the Reason Foundation estimates the proposal will cost taxpayers in New York an additional $91 billion per year by 2019. Avik Roy, the president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity and opinion editor at Forbes, says the proposal would require more than $200 billion in tax increases.
To put these figures in perspective, New York state collected $71 billion in tax revenue in 2016.
But perhaps even more damaging is the effect the program could have on illegal immigration in New York, which inevitably would impact the countless other social programs offered by the state. According to the single-payer bill, which remains under consideration by the state’s Senate, the only requirement for enrolling in the program would be to claim residency, and illegal immigrants wouldn’t be turned down coverage.
As Matthew Glans — a senior policy analyst at the Heartland Institute, where I also work as executive editor — noted in a recent article on the proposal, “The program’s free coverage for undocumented immigrants would likely create an incentive for people to come to the state for the free care. This will create a burden on the system that funding may not be able to cover.”
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It’s not unreasonable to believe millions of illegal immigrants could come pouring into New York if it approves this single-payer plan, especially since the New York City government, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, has repeatedly said it will not help federal officials enforce U.S. immigration law.
In May, following the arrest of 156 illegal immigrants, de Blasio said that it’s “very distressing … to hear that ICE is picking up people who are law abiding and contributing to the community.”
According to a report by the Pew Research Center, an estimated 3.8 percent of New York’s population in 2012 — about 750,000 people — was composed of immigrants illegally residing in the United States.