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NJ to provide free health care for undocumented children

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced free state-paid health care for thousands of undocumented immigrant children, as Democratic leaders elsewhere in the US say they’re overwhelmed with busloads of border crossers sent north.

Murphy broadened the state’s publicly funded health insurance in 2021 to include 47,000 more children. Through the expansion announced on Wednesday, New Jersey expects to add 16,000 non-citizens under the age of 19 for free routine medical care, emergency-room visits and other services.

Murphy, a 65-year-old Democrat and retired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. senior director, said children’s health was paramount to any other concerns.

“This is not just the right thing to do morally, but it is the right thing to do for the future health of our state,” Murphy said at a Morristown medical center. “Investing in regular and consistent health-care coverage is an investment in peace of mind for all New Jersey families.”

US Southern border agents encountered a record 2.76 million immigrants trying to cross illegally in fiscal 2022, according to federal data. Texas, Arizona and Florida, though, were overwhelmed by crowds that had evaded detention, and their Republican governors have sent migrants en masse to northern “sanctuary cities” led by Democrats, including New York City.

In recent months, some cities haven’t been so welcoming, and the US Conference of Mayors meeting this week will press the federal government for a solution.

On Jan. 8, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said his state would stop bussing migrants to New York City and Chicago, after their leaders objected. Across the Hudson River from New Jersey on Sunday, Major Eric Adams said New York City “cannot take more” of an immigration wave that may cost his city’s taxpayers $2 billion.

Murphy on Wednesday said his fiscal 2024 budget proposal next month would include an unspecified children’s health “commitment.” New Jersey spending has increased to $50.6 billion, or 35% higher than when Murphy first came to office in 2018.

Although New Jersey last year scored upgrades from the major credit-rating companies, the state remains hampered by one of the least-funded public-pension systems among state governments. Murphy is readying $2 billion in relief checks for the nation’s most highly taxed property owners, whose bills averaged $9,284 in 2021.

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this story was originally published January 18, 2023 7:52 PM.