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. D. Tree

    So no who is the Liar?

    September 10, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  2. Dad of a Diabetic

    The Republicans are having trouble telling the truth. I watched the Republican reply to the President. The Louisana Republican said that the Republicans are for reforming health insurance so that young adults with diabetes and cancer can buy health insurance. If the Republicans really bellieve what was said in the reply, then why didn't they reform health care in the 8 years they just had in power??????? It is hard to believe a Party that had power for the last 8 years, and did not even attempt to help the uninsurable, when they say "yes we are for reform too".

    September 10, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  3. Dewey

    The last paragraph before the verdict; "In addition...", completely negates your verdict and makes the verdict actually true. And with Sotomayor on the Supreme court bench, that won't take long to become true.

    September 10, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  4. sifto77

    Have to laugh at Liberal outrage about the lie comment–good for Wilson–Remember the dems glee when the reporter threw his shoes at Pres Bush? Lots of respect from the left then! Loved the look on Pelosi's botox face! On this subject–how can you lie, CNN, about Obama's intentions for illegals–he promotes them all the time!

    September 10, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  5. No one should die or go bankrupt because they can't afford health care

    Rep. Joe Wilson may be a career politician but he is a disgrace to South Carolina and America. His rude, racist outburst violated the rules of decorum of the House and should not be tolerated.

    September 10, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  6. Dont blame me

    CNN YOU need to go back and reread HR3200 again, because you are wrong.

    And if you read HR3200; illegals will be covered because there is NO PROVISION in the bill to check their legal status.

    So guess what, since there is nothing requiring the verification of their legal status in HR3200, all illegals will be covered.

    That is why we need E-Verify to not only apply to workeres and businesses but to also cover health care.

    And that CNN is the loop hole.

    September 10, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  7. Ethan

    """clearly restricts subsidies to U.S. citizens and legal residents. """

    In other words, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) is a LIAR.

    September 10, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  8. The Voice

    It shows how these few Republicans left in office are liars and want the President and out nation to fail.

    In this speech it shows how the Republicans show no respect for the President. Had it been a white President this would have never happened. Yes, I said it! It shows how overt racism continues to haunt even among our so called leaders. I am very disappointed in Wilson.

    I am not black, and I do respect and see Obama as a great leader and an intellectual. Unlike the disgrace we had in the previous administration. I wish Obama good luck and continue with your hard work Mr. President.

    September 10, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  9. RB

    Then don't include illegals in the numbers of uninsured in this country. Typical liberal CNN. Those numbers are inflated because they include illegals! This preisdent is a loser and is going to screw this country so bad we are ALL (this includes you democrats) gonna pay for it for years to come.

    September 10, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  10. wally

    Joe Wilson should apologize to the President and not make excuses for his behaviour.

    September 10, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  11. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    any health care bill that takes the control away from the insurance companies and special intrest groups ...and out of the hands of the GOOSE STEPPING REPUBLICAN MORONS is a good day indead

    gary davis harbor oregon

    September 10, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  12. Jean

    I believe you would be beter served if you state the "verdict" before the "facts". Many individuals are not going to take the time to read the entire facts, nor scroll down to the bottom of the page. Just a suggestion.

    September 10, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  13. Chip

    That's right, because they won't be illegals once they're given a "pathway to citizenship."

    I thought there were 47 million uninsured, but the president continually used 30 million last night. What gives?

    Perhaps the illegals,... undocumented workers, could purchase their own insurance through a 'public' option. Wouldn't that prime the pump for deportation?

    September 10, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  14. Idiot_Pelosi

    IF it is such a non-issue, the why did the DEM committee refuse to add an amendment to require citizenship checks? The issue could be put to rest by a simple amendment.

    I also love the statement that the bill would require illegal immigrants to buy coverage. If they are illegal, why are they here and why isn't border patrol being called to DEPORT them.

    I agree with a humane emergency treatment, but after the treatment, illegals need to be deported.

    BUT NO, let's give them or let them buy low cost insurance, but not pay taxes, not be documented, etc.

    September 10, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  15. Juan

    Of course it does, we have one right now and his name is obama.

    September 10, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  16. victim of republican greed

    Too bad Fox entertainment does not do fact checks. They spend most of their time trying to make up lies that their uninformed viewers would believe.

    September 10, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  17. Chip

    I love the lib whining lines on these tickers. On another, I saw someone call Joe Wilson a racist simlpy because he said "You lie". In poor taste?, agreed. Does it make him a racist? I don't think so. No more of a racist than Obama when he called his grandmother a "typical white woman" what exactly did he mean?

    September 10, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  18. Gary's mind

    Many of the illegal immigrants use stolen social security numbers to put on their employment papers. With those stolen social security numbers they may qualify for public medical insurance now and with Obama's new plan. The point is that many illegal immigrants are getting free medical care at our taxpayer expense and this will likely continue under the new proposal. It is therefore intellectually dishonest to say that the new changes in healthcare will not include immigrants or that no tax subsidy will go to cover illegal immigrants. We need to be honest about this issue. These are people who come here to work and we need to deal with this issue honestly. The CNN truth squad verdict should read "equivical" and although Rep Wilson was very rude last night, he and everyone in that chamber knows that the president's statements regarding illegal immigrants was in fact a lie. We can't get to a good healthcare reform compromise if we can't even be honest about the situation.

    September 10, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  19. Russ

    Now who can convince the thick skulled, moron Republicants of this. Right, no one can.

    September 10, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  20. I Am The Great And Powerful Rush Of Oz

    Please give as much money as you can to Rob Miller, the Iraq vet who will dump Joe "U-LIE" Wilson ibn 2010.

    September 10, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  21. bam

    To clarify your muddied explanation, the bill forbids taxpayer money from being spent on illegal immigrants – good for American citizens.

    It also requires that illegal immigrants buy their own health insurance, bringing down health care costs – good for American citizens AND the insurance industry.

    A win-win deal, but not the way Republicans spin it.

    September 10, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  22. A Democrat of 51 years who has finally got smart to their follishness.

    So OBAMA was lieing. Wilson was correct. He should never have apoligized to this socialist would-be Hitler.

    September 10, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  23. John

    Verdict wrong - if the Dems didn't want illegals covered, they wouldn't have shot down the proposal to use the S.A.V.E. citizenship verification system (used with 70 other federal programs) to verify citizenship. It's like having a speed limit sign but choosing not to enforce it - yes, technically there's a speed limit, but the government has made a conscious choice to allow people to speed. Any, many of these speeders will be eligible for the federal subsidy provided for in the bill for those that can't afford to pay (if you do the math, it puts the potential annual amount at over 30 billion dollars).

    September 10, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  24. Fair is Fair

    Fact – illegal immigrants receive their healthcare from emergency rooms, where they cannot be denied.

    Fact – the bill does say they won't be given benefits.

    Fact – therefore, they will still be going to emergency rooms and still won't be denied.

    Conclusion – illegal aliens will STILL be a tax burden vis-a-vis healthcare.

    There's no way around it, and no way to spin it.

    September 10, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  25. Stu

    CNN censors will delete this of course. Whether or not there is a healthcare package, illegals will continue to get free healthcare. Hospitals which receive federal money cannot ask if a patient is a citizen/legal resident or not. Nor can a hospital turn away a patient in need of medical care. So, illegals will continue to use hospitals for all their healthcare needs and the hospitals will write off the bills they can't collect and pass that on to the rest of us.

    September 10, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
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