Tuesday, the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the "research arm" for the United States Congress, issued a report validating an analysis by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), that illegal aliens would be able to receive benefits under the House health care reform bill, America's Affordable Health Care Act of 2009 (H.R. 3200).
The report, Treatment of Noncitizens in H.R. 3200, states definitively, "H.R. 3200 does not contain any restrictions on noncitizens - whether legally or illegally present, or in the United States temporarily or permanently - participating in the Exchange." H.R. 3200 establishes a Health Insurance Exchange which would provide individuals and small businesses with access to health care plans, including the "public option" to be managed by the government.
CRS also confirms FAIR's assessment that the House bill does not include a mechanism to prevent illegal aliens from receiving "affordability credits" that would subsidize the purchase of private health insurance. CRS specifically noted the absence "of a provision in the bill specifying the verification procedure." Because the language is ambiguous, all CRS could reasonably conclude is that any eligibility determination would be the responsibility of the Health Choices Commissioner.
The CRS analysis comes after weeks of denials by Members of Congress that illegal aliens could receive benefits under the House bill. These denials were echoed by countless media and health care "experts" who dismissed public concerns as myths, or as politically orchestrated attacks.
"Case closed. Illegal aliens will be eligible to participate in the health care program offered by the House bill unless Congress acts to amend the bill," stated Dan Stein, president of FAIR. "The loopholes and omissions in the House bill are not there by accident," continued Stein. "These loopholes were intended to extend benefits to illegal aliens while allowing Members of Congress to deny those facts to the American people."
The House Ways & Means Committee had the opportunity to include language that would have barred illegal aliens from enrolling in the proposed public option or receiving the affordability credits, but chose not to. An amendment offered by Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) would have applied the same eligibility verification procedures for coverage under H.R. 3200 that have been used for years to prove eligibility for Medicaid. That amendment was rejected by a party-line vote.
Based on its own findings and those of CRS, FAIR is calling on Congress to:
- Adopt clear language that makes illegal aliens (and nonimmigrants) ineligible for enrollment in publicly funded or subsidized health insurance programs.
- Require electronic eligibility verification for any health care reform proposal through the existing Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system.
- Maintain a five-year eligibility waiting period for legal immigrants to ensure that individuals don't come to the U.S. and immediately tap the system.
"For the past month, irate citizens, concerned that their tax dollars will be used to fund health care for illegal aliens, have been unfairly portrayed as uninformed rabble by their elected representatives and a host of media organizations," said Stein. "It is time for the politicians to close the loopholes, and for the media establishment to acknowledge that they got it wrong."