Congressional Dems to open ObamaCare to illegals?

posted at 2:18 pm on September 28, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

What began as a bug in ObamaCare has now become a feature, according to Rep. Michael Honda (D-CA).  The chair of the Congressional Asian-Pacific American Caucus now says that the government exchanges should cover immigrants, regardless of their legal status:

Fearful that they’re losing ground on immigration and health care, a group of House Democrats is pushing back and arguing that any health care bill should extend to all legal immigrants and allow illegal immigrants some access.

The Democrats, trying to stiffen their party’s spines on the contentious issue, say it’s unfair to bar illegal immigrants from paying their own way in a government-sponsored exchange. Legal immigrants, they say, regardless of how long they’ve been in the United States, should be able to get government-subsidized health care if they meet the other eligibility requirements.

“Legal permanent residents should be able to purchase their plans, and they should also be eligible for subsidies if they need it. Undocumented, if they can afford it, should be able to buy their own private plans. It keeps them out of the emergency room,” said Rep. Michael M. Honda, California Democrat and chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

There are two problems with this approach.  First, anyone can buy private insurance now, regardless of their status. No one prevents illegal immigrants from buying insurance policies.  This is a big red herring.

The issue with legal immigrants is another problem.  Since legal immigrants pay taxes and enter the country legally, they are already eligible for the tax benefits and subsidies provided by the federal government.  However, as the Washington Times notes, the US has in the past set a waiting time to keep legal immigrants from accessing welfare programs for the first five years that they live in the US, in order to keep the US from being a welfare magnet.  Honda wants to eliminate that barrier.

Honda is being disingenuous on the question of illegal immigrants and ObamaCare.  They will have to buy the policies through government-run exchanges, where federal subsidy programs will exist.  Honda apparently thinks that he can split hairs here and say that illegals won’t get subsidies from these same exchanges, but what Honda has not done is provide any enforcement mechanisms to keep them from receiving these subsidies.  One can insert language into a bill stating that illegal aliens cannot receive benefits from the program in any number of places in the legislation — which Democrats have already done — but unless there is a mechanism for requiring proof of legal residency in the system, they will receive the subsidies simply by applying for them.

Democrats, by the way, defeated an amendment over the summer that would have provided such a mechanism.

Now, instead of following Barack Obama’s lead in insisting that illegal immigrants would get excluded from the system, Honda and his colleagues are claiming that inclusion is actually a big plus for the program.  I doubt that voters will see it that way, and it undermines the claim that concern over federal dollars going to illegals is some kind of “myth”.  As a political strategy, it’s sheer folly.

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HornetSting on September 28, 2009 at 2:54 PM

and I’ll kick in the first $100.

Laura in Maryland on September 28, 2009 at 5:02 PM

They are overlooking the fact that most illegals do NOT pay taxes legally, AND they get free health care by showing up at the emergency room for routine care.

karenhasfreedom on September 28, 2009 at 5:23 PM

Watch the lefties lie incessantly on what constitues being here “legally”.

Schadenfreude on September 28, 2009 at 5:50 PM

I am anxiously awaiting for 2010. The dunces think we are a bunch of hayseed hicks that can’t spell cat if we were spotted the “c” and the “a”.

So many of these bastards are going to get pulverized at the polls.

Cleveland Steamer on September 28, 2009 at 6:04 PM

I hope the RNC is busy putting together scathing attack ads against these marxist / communist / anti-American democrat politicians roaches.

Cleveland Steamer on September 28, 2009 at 6:06 PM

No one prevents illegal immigrants from buying insurance policies.

Actually that’s not true. For most insurance policies, a critical piece of information is your Social Security number. By ‘critical’ I mean, if you don’t have it, you can’t get insurance. The SSN has been used as your policy ID number for years up until about 5 years ago. It was printed on your insurance card.

The plans that I offer that don’t require SSN have one question asking if you will reside in the US legally for the duration of the policy. Granted, nobody checks and it is a ‘yes/no’ question. But if you say you won’t reside in America legally for the duration of the policy, you don’t get the coverage.

ThackerAgency on September 28, 2009 at 6:15 PM

How many know the Federal Law on illegal aliens?
U.S. Code Title 8, Section 1325
§ 1325. Improper entry by alien:(a) Improper time or place; avoidance of examination or inspection; misrepresentation and concealment of facts
Any alien who
(1) enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers, or
(2) eludes examination or inspection by immigration officers, or
(3) attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a material fact, shall, for the first commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both, and, for a subsequent commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18, or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both.

nelsonknows on September 28, 2009 at 6:19 PM

I aint no rocket scientist or anything, but why would an illegal immigrant want to purchase health insurance (state or private) when he can get unlimited health care free from the emergency room at any hospital?

Jerricho68 on September 28, 2009 at 6:28 PM

That’s the last time I buy a Honda.

keep the change on September 28, 2009 at 6:34 PM

Jerricho68 on September 28, 2009 at 6:28 PM

The point is illegals WON’T, nor will they sign up for anything, pay a fine, pay income tax or anything else and under this Unconstitutional healthcare legislation, illegals will be at the FRONT of the line because they will be EXEMPT.
Both the 9th and 10 Courts of Appeals have ruled that Illegal Aliens CANNOT be excluded from ANY government program.

nelsonknows on September 28, 2009 at 6:55 PM

and I’ll kick in the first $100.

Laura in Maryland on September 28, 2009 at 5:02 PM

Throw in a couple of ‘Wind Farms’ and General Electric will kick in the first Billion.

BigWyo on September 28, 2009 at 6:55 PM

I’m sure seniors will be willing to cut back on their own health care to pay for this.

ajackson on September 28, 2009 at 7:27 PM

They keep pushng and Nanzi will see her wishes come true. Thats not a threat from me but the folks not gonna stand for it. The union thugs not scare em. The finger biters don’t scare em. The MSM don’t scare em. They have had enough.

bluegrass on September 28, 2009 at 7:55 PM

Here’s a sweet dilemma. If legal citizen is forced to get healthcare insurance then will hospitals still be mandated to give emergency care to everyone regardless of whether or not they have insurance?

Wouldn’t NOT having insurance when showing up to the E.R., in fact, immediately identify you as an illegal and therefore make E.R.s a great place for ICE agents to hang out in?

This, in turn, would keep illegals from using E.R.s the way they do now, which would prevent them from getting pretty much any medical care at all (and maybe go home to Mexico). The Democrats won’t stand for this.

29Victor on September 28, 2009 at 8:34 PM

Watching Greta, I just saw her intervew that fata** Sheila Jackson about this issue. The Dem talking point seems to be that this idea is necessary now to address swine flu and other infectious diseases.

How can that be when the effective date for Obamacare isn’t until sometime in 2013? Sorry, the talking point fails, Sheila.

BuckeyeSam on September 28, 2009 at 10:17 PM

First they’ve lost the senior citizens and NOW the illegal aliens…

Pass the pudding!!

Khun Joe on September 28, 2009 at 10:28 PM

Ugh, Honda is our rep. How lovely to see him spearheading the “Obama is not nearly reckless enough” campaign. Sadly, the wingnuts in this district are never going to vote him out.

evergreen on September 28, 2009 at 10:42 PM

When will the taxpayers in California get fed up with the give-away artists like Honda? I believe that boobs like Honda should influence only boob-centric districts that elect them. That way these people who want nuts like Honda and Pelosi to represent them can stew in their own liberal, give-away mess without impacting other voters.
What a sad reflection on our sociaty when voters elect people like Honda!

JonR on September 29, 2009 at 10:52 AM