September 10th, 2009
11:24 AM ET
14 years ago

CNN Truth Squad: Will health bill pay for illegal immigrants?

The statement:

Complaints that those in the United States illegally would get benefits under the health-care bill now before the House of Representatives have been a staple of the raucous public meetings some members of Congress have been hosting during their August break. At least two people raised the issue at a forum held by Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, on August 12, and Cardin's insistence that "Illegal aliens will not be in this bill - period - the end" was met with a round of jeers.

The facts:

The bill, HR 3200, would set up a health insurance "exchange," in which consumers could compare policies and choose a plan. It would create a government-run health plan to compete with private insurers in that exchange, and extend subsidies for coverage to people who aren't already covered by employers or federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid. It specifically bars illegal immigrants from receiving those subsidies. Section 246, which is included in the part of the bill that sets up the exchange, forbids payments "on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States."

But when Cardin said undocumented workers "will not be in this bill," he appears to have missed one point: It may require them to buy their own coverage.

That's the conclusion of the Congressional Research Service, which issued a report on the topic. According to the CRS, noncitizens who can be considered "resident aliens" under U.S. tax law would have to buy insurance - and unlike immigration laws, the tax code doesn't distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants.

"Thus, legal permanent residents, and noncitizens and unauthorized aliens who qualify as resident aliens ... would be required under H.R. 3200 to have health insurance," the new report states.

Critics say there is no way to enforce the ban on subsidies for undocumented workers, since the Democratic majority in the House turned back a Republican effort to explicitly stiffen citizenship checks. But Medicare and Medicaid already require those enrolled to provide "a substantial number of documents" to show they're U.S. citizens or legal residents, said Henrie Treadwell, a professor of community and preventive medicine at Atlanta's Morehouse University medical school.

Treadwell calls the issue a "red herring," since many of the estimated 10 million to 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States are getting treatment at emergency rooms already. Doctors are obligated to treat people who show up regardless of citizenship, and most of those costs are being absorbed by hospitals and state and local governments, Treadwell said.

"It is certainly not just something that disappears," she said. "We are paying now for care that is not preventive, and we are paying millions."

Some Republicans argue that the measure has left a loophole for undocumented relatives of legal residents to be covered. But Treadwell disputes that, telling CNN that based on her reading of the bills, "There is no loophole currently." The language in Section 242 of the House bill limits benefits to family members who are citizens or legal residents, she said.

In addition, a widely circulated e-mail critical of the bill states that a non-discrimination clause in Section 152 would require illegal immigrants to be covered by a public health insurance plan. But the first line of that provision forbids discrimination "except as otherwise explicitly permitted by this act."

The verdict:

False. A new report finds the bill could require illegal immigrants to buy coverage, but it clearly restricts subsidies to U.S. citizens and legal

soundoff (221 Responses)
  1. Deuce

    Obama's so called Idea for Your Health Care, is attacking from the inside, instread of the outer. I said this weeks ago. But it wont work, because you still cant afford it. Now I will watch it all collapse.

    September 10, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  2. Sam Sixpack

    Why on earth is it called the ""Truth Squad?" What does the truth have to do with it?

    September 10, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  3. andy

    The great Obama spin machine known as CNN at work. CNN has yet report the truth about Obama. Did CNN even mention the communist green Czar story?

    September 10, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  4. Lance

    Censure Joe Wilson

    September 10, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  5. Randolph Carter, rammin' healthcare down yer throats

    You know the best part of last night's speech? For me it was watching Boehner roll his eyes and squirm like a petulant little pouting child. Hilarious. Stay classy, republicans. have a nice day!

    September 10, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  6. Sam Sixpack

    So, an illegal immigrant is hit by a car and rushed to a hospial. Again, who's going to pay for it?

    September 10, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  7. these people come with already set ideas

    and nothing will change them

    these people come to shout and disrupt

    it makes the concept of a town hall meeting very difficult and one that goes back to why bother to include if you offer to listen but any idea counter to their own is jeered, shouted down etc

    September 10, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  8. DEM in HI

    If this bill does not allow illegal immigrants to seek medical coverage, then why doesn't the bill come out and state that. Instead, it is vague about the illegals. More like a speed limit that the police know they are not going to enforce.

    September 10, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  9. Randolph Carter

    Here's a great way to help pay for healthcare reform: End all farm subsidies. We don't want government meddling in the private sector, do we republicans? If our agribusiness can't compete fairly, they should be allowed to fail, right republicans? Oh wait... I forgot, most of that money goes to red states so it's OK. Have a nice day!

    September 10, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  10. Liberal4Obama

    I am beginning to think there is something in the water in SC, first they get embarrassed by Republican Gov. Mark Sanford and now an even WORST (unbelievable isn't it) by Republican Congressman Joe Wilson.

    Seriously this guys have NO PLACE in politics, their actions alone should get them both FIRED by their peers, I think when it comes to this two enough is enough, time to pay the piper.

    September 10, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  11. joseph

    When Republicans tried to add a provision which excluded Illegal aliens AND required PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP it was rejected out of hand by the democrats. With out this verification process the claim no illegals will be eligible for health insurance is outrageous and bogus.

    September 10, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  12. Jon in CA

    From the article above,

    "Critics say there is no way to enforce the ban on subsidies for undocumented workers, since the Democratic majority in the House turned back a Republican effort to explicitly stiffen citizenship checks."

    That's all you need to know. Democrats don't want to ACTUALLY check to see if anyone is an illegal immigrant.

    This is like saying Democrats are against wives being battered by their husbands ...but democrats refusing to pass any laws criminalizing such behavior.

    September 10, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  13. Diana NJ

    If there is no way to stop illegal immigrants from obtain free care under the new Health Care reform... does that mean that all the rest of of citizen will not be able to obtain affordable health care and the plan will flop... does it also mean it nothing changes that these same illegal immigrants are not getting health care NOW/

    September 10, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  14. Billy J ..Texas..

    "HR 3200 SEC. 246. NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS: Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States."

    Read it.... eat it... I dunno ... do whatever you have to do, but get it through your thick skulls and stop screwing America with your stupid 'lying' antics.

    Nutcases like Wilson and dittoheads are not the only ones who can get fired up. Maybe if we just go ahead and take this thing to it's logical conclusion, which would be street brawling, we can get this out of the way and move on. Of course these wooses would hide behind their handguns, but hey... it would just be further proof of how lacking in character these cowards are...

    September 10, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  15. Erica

    Does CNN remember the poll that took during the summer? They asked the public to grade various subjects,The news media got an FFFFFFF.This is another way you failed,yes immigrants are not officially covered,but when they go for services they are not asked to verify citizenship.

    September 10, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  16. Tony

    OBAMA LIED!!!!

    Read the bill. Even the Mainstream Media called him out on this.

    This bill in it's current form will FAIL.

    He needs to start over and actually invite the Independents and Conservative to work together. Or go at it alone and suffer the losses.

    September 10, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  17. Jon in CA

    Look at your ticker CNN
    ... 5 articles on SC Rep Wilson
    ... 2 articles on your imbalanced CNN poll (twice as many democrats are republicans used in poll)
    ... Tweets from your Obama-swooning reporters

    Your network is in FULL propaganda mode!!

    September 10, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  18. Danny E. Gonzalez

    so who is lying now... Congressmen Wilson is plainly a jerk. Former Gov. palin continues her rants on a subject she probably doesn't even understand and the president still has details to iron out... we have some real problems in this country; it is time to act to resolved them, both parites; stop being jerks and start acting like adults...

    September 10, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  19. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Just a bunch of lies coming from the GOP. What else do you expect?

    September 10, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  20. Shundria

    On this situation I am kind of in between decisions. I feel that illegla immigrants do not deserver to get the same health benefits as the rest of the American citizens because it is taking away from those who have the legal right to it. On the other hand the illegal immigrants acutaully are just as deserving of it as the rest of us. Even though they are here illegally they work harder than many of the rightful American citizens they are willing to do jobs that Americans are to lazy or just to "good" to do.

    September 10, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  21. Aristotle

    There is no way to enforce this. Nobody is allowed to ask a person's status.

    September 10, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  22. Anonymous

    Regardless of whether a person has coverage or if a person is legal or illegal, they will continue to obtain health care through an emergency room and the effect will be that costs will continue to increase to cover those who have no insurance. Therefore, we will pay for it as we have been. The additional layer or costs to enroll and administer a 'new plan' will also be passed on to all.

    September 10, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  23. aproudmemberoftheunpatrioticmob

    Now who are you going to believe that straight shooting gangster president who threatened everyone who doesn't go along with the theft of their money during the speech or the non partisan Congressional Research Office. I have not doubt that most of the posters here will believe that lying socialist. Someone should have asked a question about Van Jones or Charlie Rangel, the state run media won't. Also some coverage of the forced unionization of health care workers that is included in this monstrosity (an obvious payback to the lazy dope smokers that support the libs) as well as why many states have tort reform and dear leader just wants to try an experiment that will soon be ignored once he gets what he wants. Also he is going to pay for this with savings from getting rid of waste and fraud. How come this has not been done already? Does this mean if it does not pass, he will not get rid of the waste & fraud?

    September 10, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  24. DemHater

    The way the bill reads it does provide for illegals to get health insurance. So, how can anyone i there right mind say it doesn't? Obama cannot be trusted. He is a lier! He has not done much of anything he claimed he would do immediately after taking office. Obama stood there last night and took credit for beginning the turn around of the economy. It takes an idiot to believe that. Guess that's why there are democrats.

    September 10, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  25. ADLord

    Wow, Republicans lying to scare people into falling in line.

    Who would have thought it possible ; )

    September 10, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
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