Congressional Research Service: ObamaCare will cover illegal immigrants

Mark Tapscott discovers a nugget in the analysis provided by the Congressional Research Office on HR3200, the House version of ObamaCare coming to the floor.  While Barack Obama insists that the idea that ObamaCare will cover illegal immigrants is a “myth,” the CRS points out that the bill does nothing to prevent it.  Since HR3200 doesn’t require people to establish citizenship or legal residency before applying to exchanges for health insurance, including the public option, taxpayer money will certainly flow to illegal immigrants:

In what he called the “first myth” being spread by critics of his proposal for a government-run health care system, Obama said they are wrong in claiming illegal immigrants will be covered: “That is not true. Illegal immigrants would not be covered. That idea has not even been on the table.” Obama said.

Well, Mr. President, that idea must have been tucked under a stack of background briefing papers over there in the corner of the table because the Congressional Research Service (CRS) says this about H.R. 3200, the Obamacare bill approved just before the recess by the House Energy and Commerce Committee chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-CA:

“Under H.R. 3200, a ‘Health Insurance Exchange’ would begin operation in 2013 and would offer private plans alongside a public option…H.R. 3200 does not contain any restrictions on noncitzens—whether legally or illegally present, or in the United States temporarily or permanently—participating in the Exchange.”

CRS reports do not get released to the public.  CRS offers private analysis to members of Congress on request, but rarely do they see the light of day.  However, David Freddoso got his hands on a copy of the 11-page analysis, “Treatment of Non-Citizens in HR3200” late last night, and confirmed Tapscott’s reading:

In its subsection on health insurance subsidies (known as “affordability credits”), HR 3200 does state, “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 would seem to solve the problem, but it’s more rhetoric than reality. The bill contains no verification requirement or enforcement process for citizenship or legal residency, as exists for other federal benefit programs. The only verification required for the subsidies pertains to family income. Beyond that, as the CRS report notes, everything is left in the hands of the Health Choices Commissioner.

House Democrats defeated all attempts in committee to add an enforcement mechanism that would require proof of citizenship or legal residency for those getting subsidies.

CRS also notes that “undocumented aliens” who have a “substantial presence” in the US would be required to buy health insurance (page 4) through the exchanges in HR3200.  They would also become eligible for “emergency Medicaid,” although not normal Medicaid (page 6) for up to five years.

What about Section 246, which I said would prevent the spending of money on illegal aliens?  The CRS analysis is less than impressed with that portion of the bill.  Section “246 would bar unauthorized aliens from receiving any premium or cost-sharing credit,” it says, but that may be hard to enforce.  It also states later that “absent of a provision in the bill specifying the verification procedure, that the Commissioner would be responsible for determining a mechanism to verify the eligibility of noncitizens for the credits” — or in other words, HR3200 fails to provide it entirely.  I gave it a little too much credit, apparently, more than Congress’ own analysts do.

Be sure to read it all.  If Congress tells us that no money will go to cover illegal aliens, we can show them the CRS report and ask them to stop spreading myths.

Update: Congressional Research Service, not Office.  Had it right in the story, not in the headline.  Sorry about that!