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 Healthcare Reform.
One of the things he attempted to refute was that 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:
SEC. 246. NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS.
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, irregardless 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.
I didn’t quote the text of Section 1702 because it is very long and is not written in anything close to clear and concise verbiage.
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 via 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.
Whether or not allowing illegal immigrants such expanded free -to them at least – medical coverage is a right or wrong depends on your worldview.
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.