The growing number of “48 million uninsured” includes perhaps 15 million illegal aliens (Phoenix Business Journal 7/22/09).
Obama’s statement that “ the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally” elicited the notorious “You lie” outburst from Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC).
Currently proposed legislation does not explicitly extend coverage to illegal aliens, only to legal non-citizen residents. Of course, illegals could be made legal through other legislation. Some say that amnesty is on the legislative agenda immediately after “healthcare reform” and energy taxes (“cap and trade”), writes James R. Edwards, Jr. (Center for Immigration studies 10/2/09).
All four bills that had passed committees as of September would allow illegal aliens to take part in Health Insurance Exchanges (Charles Krauthammer, Ariz Daily Star 9/19/09).
And what about the taxpayer subsidies (“affordability credits”)? On July 16, an amendment by Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV) that would have required use of the Systemic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program to prevent illegals’ accessing these credits was defeated by the House Ways and Means Committee.
At present, 71 other means-tested federal programs require use of the SAVE system.
The National Council of La Raza launched a “flood their voice mail” campaign to pressure Sen. Baucus to drop verification language (Stephen Dinan, Wash Times 9/28/09).
If all uninsured illegal aliens with incomes below 400% of poverty accessed the credits, it would cost federal taxpayers $30.5 billion annually. The current cost to all levels of government for treating uninsured illegals is estimated to be $4.3 billion, primarily at emergency rooms and free clinics (Newsmax.com 9/8/09).
Uninsured illegals use less medical care than average because they tend to be young. Affordability credits, however, would be the same for all regardless of age or preexisting condition (ibid.).
Medicaid also does not require identity verification for those claiming U.S. birth. Illegals would also likely benefit from proposed expansion of eligibility to 133% of poverty (ibid.).
Illegals might not sign up for benefits, especially if it required filing a tax form. It is not clear that the private sector, especially hospitals, would see any relief from the enormous unfunded mandate (www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLJxmJZXgNI) to treat indigent illegals not covered by government programs.