Under current law, the federal government is expected to spend $254 billion, insuring 36 million through Obamacare in 2022. Adding 8 million newly eligible individuals to the mix would boost that number by $57 billion in that year alone, assuming the per capita cost remains constant. That could translate to hundreds of billions of dollars in increased costs over the course of a decade.
Anticipating this, framers of the bipartisan compromise stipulate that “current restrictions preventing nonimmigrants from accessing federal public benefits will also apply to lawful probationary immigrants.” “Probationary status” is what would be given to qualifying illegal immigrants when the plan is approved. A White House fact sheet on President Obama’s proposal echoes this: “Consistent with current law, people with provisional legal status will not be eligible for welfare or other federal benefits, including subsidies or tax credits under the new health care law.”
But it’s unclear that the law as currently written would actually prevent newly legalized immigrants from accessing such benefits. In outlining the requirements for the exchanges, for instance, the legislative text of Obamacare references “alien(s) lawfully present in the United States” as being eligible.