Progressive program paying illegal aliens’ healthcare bills costs far more than predicted

Progressive program paying illegal aliens’ healthcare bills costs far more than predicted
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (Image: YouTube screen grab)

Government programs usually turn out to be far more expensive than their sponsors predict. A case in point is the progressive Illinois program giving taxpayer-subsidized healthcare to illegal immigrants and other non-citizens. It was originally supposed to cost a few million but instead would end up costing billions, if enrollment were not capped. “Just four months into the fiscal year, Illinois’ Health Benefits for Immigrant Seniors program will suspend accepting new enrollees starting Nov. 6, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services said Thursday. In 2020, Illinois began subsidizing the health care of non-citizens in the state over 65, estimating the cost to be $1.8 million. Two years later, the state started offering the taxpayer-subsidized benefit to non-citizens over the age of 42,” notes Illinois in Focus.

Now, a state agency has “projected that without limits, costs could reach $1 billion. This year’s spending plan budgets half that, $550 million,” even with capped enrollment, reports the TV station WTTW.

The cost actually would far exceed $1 billion, in all likelihood. A legislator had noted that “In FY24, Illinois’ program of health benefits for undocumented immigrants is estimated to cost $990 million, which is a $768 million increase (346%) over FY23….Undocumented immigrants are ineligible for any federal Medicaid match, resulting in State GRF being used to pay for the entirety of services provided. These ballooning enrollments and costs are unsustainable and could lead to the loss of funding and services for Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens.”

Moreover, a 2023 “report from the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) shows that HFS and its contracted actuarial firm, Milliman, repeatedly underestimated actual enrollees and costs. FY24 estimates now show growth in healthcare benefits coverage for eligible undocumented immigrants totaling 108,400 over original FY23 estimates, and enrollees totaling 31,500 over original FY23 estimates, a 202% and 94% increase respectively.”

These cost overruns, while huge, are small compared to the cost overruns of federal programs created by Joe Biden. Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act may add over $2 trillion to the national debt — not $2 billion, but $2 trillion (a trillion is a thousand billion) — rather than cutting the national debt as Biden claimed it would. Soon after it was enacted, financial experts at places like Goldman Sachs soon concluded that the subsidies contained in the Inflation Reduction Act could cost $1.2 trillion or more, massively increasing the budget deficit. This fall, a think-tank concluded that the Act could cost $3 trillion, and could undermine transmission reforms needed to provide adequate and affordable electricity to the public.

The Inflation Reduction Act continues Biden’s record of massive, inflationary government spending. Biden’s big spending spawned inflation, according to economists like Bill Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, Larry Summers, and Obama advisor Steven Rattner. As Rattner noted in the New York Times, Biden has spent “an unprecedented amount” of taxpayer money, which resulted in “too much money chasing too few goods.”

The national debt is now about $34 trillion, up by trillions of dollars since President Biden took office. It’s now much bigger than the size of the entire U.S. economy.

Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law. He also once worked in the Education Department. Hans writes for and has appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” Contact him at


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