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Will Illegal Immigrants Be Covered Under ObamaCare?

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In his most recent (August 22, 2009) weekly radio address, President Obama railed about the supposed "outrageous myths" surrounding his plan for Health Insurance reconstruction, a plan that is often shilled as Health Care Reform.

One of the things he attempted to refute was the concern tnat illegal immigrants would be covered under ObamaCare.

From Reuters (Washington, DC):

Today, I want to spend a few minutes debunking some of the more outrageous myths circulating on the Internet, on cable TV, and repeated at some town halls across this country.

Let's start with the false claim that illegal immigrants will get health insurance under reform. That's not true.

That idea has never even been on the table.

In a Rovian sense, what President Obama asserted is true, or at least not completely false. Title II, Subtitle C, Section 246 of the bill (HR 3200) – dealing solely with insurance subsidies – states:


Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.

That is very clear and concise verbiage. Under the provisions of HR 3200, illegal immigrants would not be allowed to receive federal subsidies with which to acquire health insurance from the proposed Health Insurance Exchange.

But illegal immigrants are allowed – as anyone should be, regardless of residency status – emergency medical care under Medicaid, and HR 3200 not only expands Medicaid eligibility but also restricts (via Section 1702) inquiries about immigration and residency status. This would make it difficult for state agencies to prevent illegal immigrants from receiving fully subsidized medical care above and beyond what they are currently entitled to receive.

So technically, President Obama is telling the truth in that illegal immigrants will not be eligible to receive federal subsidies for the purpose of acquiring health insurance from the proposed Health Insurance Exchange. He is, however, being extremely disingenuous in his statement, hence the above reference to Karl Rove, since HR 3200, America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (AAHCA), would grant illegal immigrants greatly expanded access to medical care. Indeed, the provisions in Section 1702 of the bill could allow them access to 100% taxpayer subsidized non-emergency medical care.

So is the claim that ObamaCare will cover illegal immigrants an "outrageous myth?" No, but it is an oversimplification of the matter. This is very much the same as President Obama's "outrageous myth" that ObamaCare won't cover illegal immigrants.

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About jonolan

  • Mark

    “…but also restricts (via Section 1702) inquiries about immigration and residency status.”

    “Sec. 1702. Requirements and special rules for certain Medicaid eligible individuals. Requires State Medicaid
    programs to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Health Choices Commissioner to coordinate
    enrollment of low-income individuals, including newborns, into the Exchange or Medicaid as appropriate. ”

    Where is the part about restricting inquiries into immigration status? Given that the entire thesis of your article rests on this assertion, I have to give you failing grade on this piece.

  • me.

    why cant we all just get along…

  • Linda

    Baritone, I loved your comment, reminds me of a poster I once saw..a picture a native american Uncle Sam, the message read,”who’s the alien?, pilgrim!

  • margit

    wow…so much anger here…i have my own too. however…bottom line is that there exists a law. you must enter legally. ask any professional person working here under a visa, when it expires, they must leave. so, i propose we eliminate the false law that states you have to enter legally. open the gates to anyone…it took our family 10 years of waiting to come in to the usa. needed to have a job in place first, $1000, and a sponsor who signed that he/she was responsible for us so we would not be a drain on the usa. guess that only applies. my family scrimped and saved and had no extras to be able to come. so no, we were not rich…we obeyed the law of the land we came to love and respect…we became americans, no hyphens here.

  • Mary

    Many years ago I could not understand why our Center for Disease Control (CDC) won’t take a strong stand against those that come here illegally.

    NO – I am not against Immigrants!

    But, it’s a simple matter that all should be honest about entering our country. We already have laws in place. Why aren’t they enforced?
    The CDC can not have quality control when they don’t even know who’s who. It is the CDC’s profession to have knowledge of the health of this country by protecting the HEALTH of it’s citizens.




  • Mary

    The illegal immigrants are not eligible under the current laws. Yet, they are still receiving medical care.

    So, does this mean Status Quo?

  • Fingal

    Illegal immigration is part of an economic model based on hypocrisy. Powerful interests want to have a work force that does not dare to insist on the enforcement of laws governing wages, work rules, or workplace safety, so an illegal underclass of labor has been allowed to develop. There are occasional raids, but the workers that are rounded up are quickly replaced by others. Employer sanctions are rarely applied, and when they are, it’s big news.

    It’s another case of following the money to find the source of the problem.

    As for healthcare, aside from basic compassion for another human being, since that’s so naive and unfashionable these days, do you really want sick people of any legal status denied treatment, or fearful to seek treatment, so that, let’s say, their tuberculosis can get spread around among the rest of us? Is that even smart thinking for a cold-blooded reptile?

  • Arch Conservative

    Nothing a couple of million landmines on our southern border won’t solve.

  • I’m certain, Silas, they’re not behind Americans. Ireland was more booming than England proper of recent. And you know they’re more humane.

  • In that case, I’d want to live in Country Antrim. My g-g-g-g-grandfather came from a small town there and came over here in 1824. He was a sailor looking for fishing opportunities in New England. From all the accounts I’ve read — newspaper clippings, family records and grave inscriptions — he was still very attached to the homeland.

    So, how’s the health care over there, Roger? That’s an important consideration.

  • I like your dig about English being a second language. But can you divorce yourself from your Irish roots. I’d do Ireland if I were you. Prior to the present crisis, it was the seat of the second Renaissance in computer technologies, e.g.

    Not to mention the Trinity College is a seat of learning.

  • If I am fortunate enough to save the cash for my old age which is fast approaching I would like to live out the remainder of my days in Costa Rica. At least medical care is cheap, the doctors are phenomenal and English is a second language there as well as here.

  • Wow! Lots of Gringos must have made the move already.

  • Clavos

    Except for the water, the cost of living is considerably less. I’m game for the exchange.

    Not any more. A decent apartment in the D.F. (Mexico City) will run you $3K a month or more. Other areas are priced commensurately.

  • And you know what. We keep on re-electing those a …s.

  • Sounds a bit like the Monty Python ‘Architect Sketch’, in which the leading contender in a competition to design a state-of-the-art apartment block is more accustomed to building abattoirs…

  • Dave,

    If I were you, there goes a perfect scenario for a short story – possibly a movie. It’s just what the public wants. And if you make it big, you can forget the penny ante articles we all write for BC.

  • I understand, Roger. Here in Boston reports are that Mrs. Kennedy is not interested in running or filling in temporarily. But that leaves many unfazed. There’s a “draft Vicky” movement being organized. In the meantime the cause endures, the work goes on, and health care reform will die.

  • Dr. D, when we implant citizen ID chips in all of the native born citizens it will be easy for doctors to tell who is illegal the moment they walk in the door of the emergency room. They could then have trapdoors set up which would drop them into sluices which end in rotating knives which would quickly render them up for dog food, which will be all our senior citizens can afford to eat when hyperinflation makes their social security checks worthless.

    Pedro, don’t forget to register for you (soylent) green card.


  • It’s really pathetic, Silas, that Kennedy’s death should contribute to polarization.

    I haven’t shed a tear for Teddy. I’ve done enough of it for the two brothers. And the Kopechny affair was always in the back of my mind, however unarticulated. But still . . .

  • Except for the water, the cost of living is considerably less. I’m game for the exchange.

  • Not even LEGAL immigrants will be covered under ObamaCare because there is no such thing as ObamaCare. The President left it to Congress to hammer out the details on this one. And, barring a miracle, there will be no health reform this year. The bigger the Congressional production the more likely the absence of action. And in the wake of Ted Kennedy’s death the polarization will be worse. Members of Congress are only interested in winning reelection next year.

  • At least 20 million illegal immigrants now reside in America, and decades of neglect, has swollen the numbers that in future years will undoubtedly cause irreversible overpopulation as analyzed by the US Census Bureau?

    Oh, don’t worry about that, o misspelled Roman one. Because of the tide of illegal border crossing, Mexico will then be empty. So all you law-abiding shitizens can just move down there. Problem solved.

  • Well, I wouldn’t worry about those.

  • There are still plenty of people who’ll miss it.

  • I suppose you have to telegraph the intent of your message, Dreadful, for all the illegal aliens out there, not to mention home-grown homophobes. Better safe than sorry.

  • It’s disgraceful that under Obamacare, injured and sick ILLEGALS will not be left to bleed out on the hospital steps. No medical professional would have any qualms about failing to provide care, especially since their training enables them to tell at a glance whether a patient is in the country legally or not.


  • You opened the can of worms, jonolan. Now you know what a lively community we represent.

  • Dumb Native Americans. They trusted the white man.

  • Interesting…

    Not quite the “discussion” I expected to surround this post.

  • Immigration rightly should have been stopped when it began. The first white man who landed here should have been eviscerated and sent back to Europe with his own genitals crammed into his mouth.

    So now, we can blame all this ethnic impurity on native Americans who failed to enforce stringent immigration policies back in the 15th & 16th centuries. Let’s place the blame where it belongs.


  • Wow, this thread certainly brought out the frothing nativist loonbags.


  • Clavos

    …but not grammatically…

  • Brittancus


    No Independent voter can agree on all issues that we are confronted in this 21 century of the United States? The demise of liberal minded Edward Kennedy demands every American respect and sincere condolences for his long and arduous battle for political reforms in our government. Even though I am a great believer in a Senators Kennedy’s public option choice to Health care. But I am adamantly–OPPOSED–to any path to citizenship for illegal immigrants he also endorsed. But alas Health care and illegal immigration are joined a the proverbial hip and must be separated. In 1985 immigration bill Sen. Kennedy assured the American people, that another AMNESTY would–NEVER–be enacted in future sessions of Congress. He was after all one of the principal authors of the Simpson/Mazzoli bill, in which he committed himself to all of the American public. Speed up a–POINTS SYSTEM–for top of the pinnacle highly skilled workers, but no more hosting millions of indigent foreign labor and families, who become public welfare charges.

    PS: Illegal Immigrants will get full access to THE PEOPLES health care, if the Democrats pass a path to citizenship or better known as BLANKET AMNESTY. This piece of potential legislation, is not being fully advanced to the public and cloaked until after enactment? As with most civilized countries we are predisposed to treatment for any illegal alien in emergency hospitals. Except that this hospitals have become an open-house for any minor ailment to very expensive problems like dialysis?.

    Once again we will be confronting this major dilemma on immigration reform, mainly because over many administrations immigration enforcement was never carried out. Over these decades lax policies have caused a massive overload of foreigners, who compromised themselves by not following the law, but are not entirely to blame? The awful fact is that the 1986 legislation was under funded and engineered for the particular business sector, unions, church, specialized attorneys and radical minority organizations by certain politicians. Since than the costs have been magnified, parallel to the–TRILLIONS–spent on nation building wars. At least 20 million illegal immigrants now reside in America, and decades of neglect, has swollen the numbers that in future years will undoubtedly cause irreversible overpopulation as analyzed by the US Census Bureau?

    Trying to deport so many people is a possibility and a very expensive proposition. But their is another avenue that could be used, with equal success and not costing anywhere near using a forced deportation? We must demand from our rogue lawmakers in Washington to introduce a mandated, funded E-Verify? We know it works well because Special interest groups have used their influence to derail it. In the courts they have resuscitated racial profiling, including that it was faulty in its operation. The cure is simple–plaintiffs should go to the local Social Security office for straightening out irregularities. Until now we didn’t realize its power to perform and remove illegal immigrants from the work floor and therefore our government should make it available to every employer under the penalty of fines and prison. BEFORE ANY NEW WORKER IS HIRED, THEY SHOULD BE GIVEN AN E-VERIFICATION FORM WARNING THEM OF USING BOGUS ID AND A LEGAL FORM TO SIGN UNDER THE PENALTY OF PERJURY IN MAJOR FOREIGN LANGUAGES. EACH BUSINESS MUST BE MANDATED TO DISPLAY AN E-VERIFY NOTICE. THEIR SHOULD BE A REWARD TO WORKERS, WHO CORRECTLY REPORTS ILLEGAL LABOR ACTIVITY TO ICE.

    Democratic leadership made a fatal error, as it had already been funded for months to come E-Verify. The public eye and anti-illegal immigration groups became instantly aware of its special use. An outcry to Washington caused a re-emergence of this utility and now is firmly placed as a workable tool. Further innovations and technical progress–MUST–be made available and reasonable appropriations to modify its accessibility for the most fundamental PC operative? As time goes by, as all new computer programs bugs and errors will be removed and new versions will appear. A few Eastern states have made it fully functioning, while rebel states as California–a Sanctuary illegal immigrant state–is defying its use. Through voluntary now, over time it could cause mass evacuation of illegal labor from the workplace as by “Attrition”. Millions will surely give up as employers will live under a dark cloud of penalties and return slowly to their home country.

    The 1986 (IRCA) immigration act is very potent and is currently under attack by unions, ACLU, US Chamber of Commerce, as is E-Verify, 287 G, the border fence and anything that smells of enforcement. Corporate entities–COMMAND–unparalleled cheap labor with no restriction, which has been honored by certain unethical politicians who do not represent the majority of the jobless public. Years of inactivity by unethical politicians caused the immigration mess in the first place. So the old adage stands its ground even today, “You made this bed, so now you have to sleep in it”? President Obama is going to try and insist on pushing through another immigration reform, but we cannot let this happen. He should build on the 1986 immigration reform, add amendments and stop the OVERPOPULATION of this country. Do the calculations yourselves of the trillions of dollars used–OVER THE YEARS–to cater to foreign national workers, their families in education, hospitals and the penal environment.

    We must assure that all American workers are gainfully employed, not individuals who have no right to be in our country? It makes me sick to see veterans of Korea, Viet-Nam, the Gulf war walking the streets homeless, while illegal immigrants get gratification from employers and lawmakers. WE NO LONGER CAN SUPPORT ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS. OUR COUNTRY IS NEAR BANKRUPTCY. DEMAND E-VERIFY TO CHECK THE IMMIGRATION STATUS FOR EVERY US WORKER, BY CONTACTING YOUR LAWMAKER AT 202-224-3121. VOTERS SHOULD COMMAND NO MORE WEAKENING OF ANY LAWS INCLUDING 1986 (IRCA) IMMIGRATION CONTROL & REFORM ACT. JOIN NUMBERSUSA, JUDICIAL WATCH AND BE STUNNED HOW MILLIONS OF VOICES HAVE MADE AN INCREDULOUS DIFFERENCE.

  • stevo1

    Our Government, past & present, Republican & Democrat, have allowed the invasion of 20 to 40 million criminals and uneducated peons which is the largest invasion of any Nation, at any time, by any means & in direct violation of Article IV, Section IV of our Constitution.

    This refusal to abide by our Constitution or enforce our Immigration Laws should be classified as Treason of the most foul kind, & as grounds for impeachment & trials for Treason!
    Not only have they allowed the invasion, they force American tax payers to pay Billions on Billions of dollars to provide Welfare, Prison cells, Educate the invaders numerous children, and free medical care , at the same time the invading horde break numerous laws and massive document fraud, & are destroying ourschools, hospitals, communities, culture and standard of living while Robbing, Raping, Killing & Assaulting American Citizens! WAKE UP!

  • hospitalmd

    I am a medical doctor, and admit illegal immigrants to the hospital every day. There is no expectation that they will pay for their care – social workers rush to sign them up for Medicaid ASAP ( it is the only way the hospital is paid anything. Doctors treat them for free).
    Conversely, legal residents ( immigrant or not) are expected to pay for their care. They are billed, sent to collections, etc., often w/ resulting personal financial devastation.

    1. It is illegal for a nurse/doctor to refuse to treat anyone ( emergency or not) in the ER

    2. It is illegal to transfer anyone, (requiring any sort of medical treatment) from hospital or the ER, to another site, based on ability to pay

    Therefore, illegal immigrants preferentially receive completely free medical care. This will continue to be the case under any of the proposed new systems.

    Why shouldn’t this be discussed at this critical legislative moment?

    (Anyone is free to look at how England, Provinces in Canada, France, Spain, Australia, etc. handle health care for new legal residents, pending legal residents, and illegal residents).

  • It’s beyond me that so many Americans – many of whom proclaim themselves to be devout Christians – are so incensed about illegal aliens. I don’t like seeing our country as one that can “afford” wars and propping up banks and Wall Street, but bristles at giving a poor person medical care (emergency or otherwise) because he sneaked in rather than walked through the legal door. It’s also time we remember that in the course of our marauding “manifest destiny,” we stole a lot of Mexican land and made it our own. I know “karma” strikes many as a woo-woo 60s notion, but I think we’re getting what we deserve in this undeniably troublesome influx. However, if we took a more humane approach to how we treat others and how we spend our tax dollars, what seems like a problem could become a resource (just ask any employer who goes out of his way to hire and exploit illegals). I think the president is trying to quote the letter of the law to squelch some of the anti-immigrant rage. But one of these days, we born-and-bred Americans may need to flee elsewhere; I hope if that day comes, we’re treated/viewed better than we’ve treated those who’ve sought sanctuary and opportunity here; such a lack of generosity, such a lot of putrid fear! And if we’re going to stay all fired up about ILLEGAL ALIENS, maybe we should take that plaque off the Statue of Liberty and say what we really mean: “Give us your vigorous, your wealthy, the elegant Eurotrash longing to flee the high-tax pressures of your teeming shores…” Really, shame on us!

  • Thanks for this article…
    Yes, this illegal immigration health care issue is just like the Dems telling us that ObamaCare won’t pay for abortion either (medical procedure, duh) What a crock!

  • It’s so sickening, Bob. Look at what America has become – all pinkos and the color of rainbow.

    And it used to be God-given white man’s country.

  • Delaware Bob

    Illegal aliens get FREE health care now. Can you imagine that? You can be in this Country ILLEGALLY and get the very best medical care. Talk about needing reform!

    Illegal aliens have made America the dumping ground for all their illegal alien children, then we have to school them and give them free medical care.

    I for one, am sick and tired of these ILLEGAL ALIENS snubbing their nose at our immigration laws and the many other laws of this Country. If our Federal Government can not ENFORCE our immigration laws, and get these ILLEGAL ALIENS out of this Country, then let the States do it! One way or another, an end has to come to this illegal immigration, and not with AMNESTY! Amnesty will only encourage more ILLEGAL ALIENS to invade our Country and reward those who broke our laws and raped the American taxpayer in many ways…depressing our wages, taking our jobs, overwhelming our schools with their ILLEGAL ALIEN children, driving without a license or car insurance, all the crime from stolen identities to rape, drugs and everything else.

    It’s time for ZERO TOLERENCE with these ILLEGAL ALIENS. It’s time for them get out of this Country and back in their own Country where they belong. When we get rid of the ILLEGAL ALIENS, we will get rid of all the problems that go with them. THAT IS A FACT!

  • I am a bit bemused about the bruhaha regarding medical coverage for illegal immigrants. The fact that all hospital emergency rooms are mandated to provide care for all who enter, some of this argument is moot right off the top. Illegal immigrants would not receive the breadth and depth of care that either legal immigrants and US citizens receive via bills now being considered in the House. But they are permitted to receive at least emergency and basic care regardless of their status. It is simply humane to do so. Given the dangers posed by the plethora of communicable diseases spreading around the world, to deny illegal immigrants care would pose far more danger and – of course the REAL concern for most – would cost us a great deal more in tax dollars.


  • Thanks for explaining it.

  • No, I don’t think you would have to have accomplices. Section 1702 of HR 3200 would reduce state agencies ability to query for- or report residency status when people try to get Medicaid. All it would take is someone trying to improperly get the service and the agency in question not being able to verify their eligibility.

    We ended up with a similar issue with Food Stamps under the Clinton Administration. Federal regulations require that INS / ICE must be notified if it is learned that an illegal alien is within a household applying for Food Stamps.


    The agencies were told by the federal government that unless a person has already had a hearing and been formally determined to be an illegal immigrant, no government agency really knows that they are illegal – so they are not required to be reported.

    That is actually the basis for my presuming that such abuse would happen under ObamaCare.

  • I wouldn’t disagree on general principles, especially concerning potential abuses. Still, being able to secure a full-scale medical care on an ongoing basis would call for fraud as well. It wouldn’t be as easy as checking into the ER; you have to presuppose accomplices.

  • Clavos,

    Thank you. I’m glad to be here.


    I don’t think I’m jumping to too great of a conclusion. Any reduction in basic enforcement of the existing laws is bound to lead to people abusing the system.


    Neither Criticizing ObamaCare nor offering an alternative was truly the focus of this article. The article was meant to “debunk” the lies and/or disingenuous statements being made about whether or nor illegal immigrants would receive medical coverage via ObamaCare.

  • Nice, attractive blog, Stephen. Read your personal reflection piece on healthcare and it reverberates my own sentiments. You ought to have published it here as well.

  • It’s clear that you have an objective in mind in writing your article, and are choosing to interpret the proposed bill (only one of many that are being proposed) in a particular way.

    No law (or person) is perfect, but I would love to hear alternatives that you agree with instead of simply writing about why you disagree with Obama and any of his supporters about any stand they take on apparently any issue.

    In other words, instead of telling us that one group of people (or a particular person is wrong), why not try expressing what you believe in in a positive way? Is there a proposed approach that you think will work? If so, why? If not, then why do you think no one is proposing it?

  • “But illegal immigrants are allowed – as anyone should be, regardless of residency status – emergency medical care under Medicaid, and HR 3200 not only expands Medicaid eligibility but also restricts (via Section 1702) inquiries about immigration and residency status. This would make it difficult for state agencies to prevent illegal immigrants from receiving fully subsidized medical care above and beyond what they are currently entitled to receive.”

    Aren’t you kind of jumping to conclusions here, jonolan – i.e., from emergency treatment(s) to “a fully subsidized medical care over and above . . .”? It would seem one should have to argue to that effect.

    A succinctly written article. Welcome to BC.

  • Clavos

    Interesting, well-researched article, jonolan.

    Welcome to Blogcritics!