Bad Dreams About "Free" Health Care

By James R. Edwards, Jr. on September 20, 2012

The New York Times has reported on a curious decision by the Obama administration: Amnesty recipients through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) end-run legalization won't be allowed to collect expensive federal health care.

But Rep. Joe Wilson's (R-S.C.) 2009 "you lie" remark during a joint meeting of Congress challenging President Obama's claim that illegal aliens wouldn't benefit from Obamacare may have been prescient, even though the White House awoke the DREAMers from their hoped-for taxpayer subsidies.

The administration has rejected the two-year amnesty beneficiaries as qualifying for Obamacare premium subsidies, which the state health insurance "exchanges" will administer. An August decision "specifically excluded" the illegal aliens granted reprieve from deportation under the president's illegitimate amnesty initiative from falling within the "lawfully present" definition.

In addition to exclusion from taxpayer premium subsidies, the estimated two million eventual beneficiaries of Obama's de facto amnesty won't be eligible for the welfare programs Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This decision appeared in the Federal Register. Health and Human Services (HHS) has notified state health agencies of the administration's decision regarding exclusion from Medicaid and CHIP.

There remains a risk, however, that taxpayers will end up subsidizing illegal aliens through Obamacare. The loose language of the health law leaves wide discretion to HHS as to how it will fulfill immigration status verification of those seeking health coverage through an "exchange". Exchanges are the vehicle through which individuals' and families' incomes will be assessed to determine whether they qualify for Medicaid or CHIP or their level of premium subsidy, which is awarded on a sliding scale for incomes between 133 percent and 400 percent of the official poverty income level.

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More than 70 means-tested programs use the SAVE system. But the Senate bill that became Obamacare deliberately omits mention of SAVE and instead leaves it up to HHS to come up with its own, presumably inferior, immigration status verification scheme. The law also provides a loophole whereby HHS can dumb down even its crummy substitute verification system if it's too good at screening out illegals.

The Democratic Congress weakened the means of confirming the legal status of those being enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. The activist groups driving that move a few years back prefer fast-tracking enrollment — easing the way for illegals to slip into the programs and bilk taxpayers of scarce health-dollar benefits that should rightfully be reserved for Americans and eligible legal immigrants.

And because many permanent immigrants and asylees qualify for insurance premium subsidies under Obamacare because they are "lawfully present", the health law creates a tremendous incentive for illegal aliens and their identity-theft enablers to steal legitimate residents' and citizens' identities. ID fraud and ID theft epidemics could worsen once the exchanges begin in 2014.

The administration's "amnesty, yes; health care, no" stance has angered the immigrants' rights groups and the DREAMers. The Times said, "The decision — disclosed last month, to little notice — has infuriated many advocates for Hispanic Americans and immigrants." The article quoted complaints by a DREAMer, the National Council of La Raza, and the National Immigration Law Center. So, at least on one count, the Obama administration deserves some credit.

As for whether illegals will benefit from Obamacare, Wilson may be proven right once the law is fully in place.