California to extend Obamacare to illegal immigrants using ‘innovation waiver’

posted at 7:01 pm on June 4, 2016 by John Sexton

California legislators have passed a bill which would allow illegal immigrants to purchase insurance on the state’s Obamacare exchange. The bill first has to be signed by Gov. Jerry Brown and then the change would need to be approved by the federal government.

If approved, the change would break another promise made by President Obama when selling the law to Americans. During a 2009 address to Congress Obama said, “There are also those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants.” He added, “This too is false. The reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.” That was when Rep. Joe Wilson famously interjected, “You lie!” The break in decorum earned him an official rebuke.

According to U.S. News and World Report, just two years after the program took effect it looks like the president’s promise is about to be undone in America’s largest state:

Obamacare explicitly bars people in the country illegally from its provisions, but a loophole called the “innovation waiver” allows for states to change portions of the law, as long as they make coverage available to more people and as long as the federal government doesn’t have to pick up the tab, among other requirements. The bill, which would require that a request for a waiver be filed, first must be approved by the state legislature and the governor before the waiver can be considered by the federal government.

Though the California bill does not come with federal subsidies that make health insurance more affordable to low- and middle-income people, critics fear it’s heading that way.

“This is a two-step process: Open the door to the exchanges, but when no one can afford to buy insurance you come back and add the subsidies,” says Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “This is the first step in another misrepresentation of the Affordable Care Act. It was sold to the American people on the fact that you wouldn’t have to subsidize health care for illegal immigrants.”

If Brown signs the bill the government will have roughly 8 months to approve or disapprove the change.


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