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California to Foot Bill for Health Care of Undocumented Children

Applications for Medi-Cal health insurance sits on a table during the WeConnect Health Enrollment Information and Wellness Event in Oakland, California, U.S., on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013.

Applications for Medi-Cal health insurance sits on a table during the WeConnect Health Enrollment Information and Wellness Event in Oakland, California, U.S., on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

California is set to become the biggest U.S. state to provide taxpayer-financed health care to children of undocumented immigrants, taking on a $132 million annual burden as Congress blocks federal reform.

The decision to cover about 142,500 immigrant children under Medi-Cal, the state’s version of the federal Medicaid health-care plan for the poor, comes at a time when the program’s rolls are swelling from a mandated expansion under Obamacare.