Nancy Pelosi Owes Joe Wilson an Apology

By James R. Edwards, Jr. on November 6, 2009

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is apparently the one being dishonest now, and she owes Congressman Joe Wilson an apology. The health reform bill she’s bringing to the House floor Saturday, H.R. 3962, rewards illegal aliens with taxpayer-funded health benefits.

The latest House bill leaves in place nearly all the loopholes of the previous bill, H.R. 3200. Illegal immigrants will be able to gain health care at taxpayer expense through these loopholes (and we aren’t talking emergency care, which remains untouched and available, and isn’t even an issue). We’re talking health coverage, paid wholly or substantially by U.S. taxpayers.

The legislation expands Medicaid to cover people earning 50 percent above the poverty level. Medicaid, one of the three major entitlement programs that will stretch unfunded taxpayer liability even further, will pick up many illegal aliens among those newly enrolled. Many other illegal aliens will obtain taxpayer-subsidized health coverage through the Exchange. The Exchange is a government-run bureau the bill creates to regulate health insurance. Employers and individuals would go through the Exchange to get health coverage.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (which often underestimates costs) projects that H.R. 3962 will cover some 2.5 million more illegal aliens than the previous version of the legislation, H.R 3200. That previous legislation is what caught all the flak and prompted Rep. Joe Wilson to force President Obama to beef up his requirement of effective barriers against covering illegal aliens. Now, the latest House bill even more generously rewards illegal immigrants than did the former bill!

The Speaker somewhat cynically included a modest eligibility verification provision in H.R. 3962, but it only applies to premium subsidies for those earning too much to qualify for Medicaid. The House Rules Committee rejected at least nine amendments filed that would have closed these kinds of loopholes. The hardball Rules action guarantees that there’s no possibility of fixing the immigration-related flaws in health reform legislation.