I didn't need Rep. Joe Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, to tell me that President Barack Obama is fudging on health care reform. (My previous column is here.) But calling the
president a liar during his address to congress was beyond stupid; it more evidence that civility is an endangered species in today's society. Besides, it just gave the Democratic tongue-waggers in the media a lot of copy to club their opponents' heads with and divert attention from the real issue.
But if we can get beyond all that, maybe we could have a thoughtful discussion about what House Bill 3200 says about illegal immigrants.
First, the bill's critics argue that while it clearly states whlle illegal immigrants are not eligible to receive taxpayer-funded health premiums, it is silent about how that provision shall be enforced. Republicans tried to tried to fix this oversight with an amendment that would require the use of the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program, commonly used in government means-tested
programs.The Democrats defeated the amendment in committee.
Another point: How many illegal immigrants will sign up for the program
when they are legalized by immigration "reform" being pushed by Obama
Here is another salient question, as posed by the Center for Immigration Studies
illegal immigrants be required to buy health care insurance coverage?
The non-partisan arm of Congress, the Congressional Research Service,
summarizes HB3200 this way: "...all legal permanent residents, non
immigrants and unauthorized aliens who meet the substantial
presence test [anyone in the country for at least 31 days in the
current year and at least 183 day in the current and last two years]
would be required to obtain health insurance." The bill doesn't define
legal status for determining "substantial presence." [emphasis added]
Here is the crux:
The legislation offers affordable premium credits, or more simply
affordability credits, to persons with low incomes who meet the
substantial presence criteria. Under HR 3200, individuals would use the
newly created Health Insurance Exchange to get affordability credits or
to enroll in the to-be-created government-provided health insurance
program often referred to as the "public option." The credits are based
on a sliding scale, with lower-income people getting a larger credit.
The income ceiling for the credits and public option is 400 percent of
the poverty level. Section 246 of HR 3200 states, "Nothing in this
subtitle shall allow federal payments for affordability credits on
behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United
But as CRS points out, "HR 3200 does not contain any restrictions on
non-citizens -- whether legally or illegally present, or in the United
States temporarily or permanently -- participating in the Exchange."3
So it would seem that illegal immigrants, along with some temporary
workers and visitors, would be required to have insurance and could use
the Exchange, despite a bar on them receiving taxpayer-financed
affordable premium credits
There's more, if you're interested in thoughtful consideration of
health care reform. But let me ask this: If Obama is so sincere about
excluding illegal immigrants from his health care program, let him (or
his congressional allies) offer amendments that would close this and
other loopholes? Their silence tells it all.