Now That I Have Your Attention on Health Reform and Illegals . . .

By James R. Edwards, Jr. on September 14, 2009

Most of the news media have worked overtime to deny that health reform legislation covers illegal aliens (it most definitely does). But there are a few exceptions — thank God! One is the Courier out in Iowa. The Waterloo, Iowa, news people actually looked at the bill, H.R. 3200. The editorial also gets that House lawmakers took the cynical approach of using meaningless, fig leaf "prohibitions," wink-and-nod presumption of eligibility, and omission of parallel verification requirements contained in 71 other public programs.

The sunshine that's focused intensely on the gaping legislative loopholes has forced the White House to stake a firmer position (though still just rhetoric and lacking any power to bind Congress).

The Senate Finance Committee, which has conducted the only bipartisan health reform effort in town, has strengthened its immigrant-related provisions after public attention to the House bill's loopholes. The Finance proposal will include requirements that those seeking to take advantage of health programs in this bill have their eligibility verified, specifically on immigration or citizenship status. (See here and here.)

But this is only a first step. Now that the White House is moving toward prevention of health coverage for illegal aliens (this has nothing to do with emergency care, which will continue to be available) and the Senate Finance Committee is attending to it, closing all the loopholes would require further attention. Such changes would include adding prohibitions and verification language to every kind of health coverage or services in every bill, including H.R. 3200. This would include barring illegal aliens from the "exchange," from receipt of premium support and affordability credits, from Medicaid. And the loopholes of "presumptive eligibility," bars on states from performing further eligibility checks, and the like would also have to be stricken.