Big Nanny Democrats want to ration health care for everyone in America — except those who break our immigration laws. Last week, the House Ways and Means Committee defeated an amendment that would have prevented illegal aliens from using the so-called public health insurance option. Every Democrat on the panel voted against the measure.
Nevada GOP Rep. Dean Heller's measure would have enforced income, eligibility and immigration verification screening on all Obamacare patients. Unlike most everything else stuffed into the House Democrats' plan, the citizenship vetting process would not have required building a new bureaucracy. Heller proposed using existing state and federal databases created years ago to root out entitlement fraud.
If the congressional majority are truly committed to President Barack Obama's quest to wring cost savings from the system, why won't they adopt the same anti-fraud checks imposed on other government health and welfare beneficiaries?
The Democratic leadership denies that an estimated 12 million to 20 million illegal immigrants will receive taxpayer-subsidized health insurance coverage. But Obama lit the fuse in February when he signed the massive expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program. That law loosened eligibility requirements for legal immigrants and their children by watering down document and evidentiary standards — making it easy for individuals to use fake Social Security cards to apply for benefits. In addition, Obama's S-CHIP expansion revoked Medicaid application time limits that were part of the 1996 welfare reform law. Immigration activists see the provisions as first steps toward universal coverage for illegals.
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Immigration analyst James R. Edwards Jr. reported last week in National Review that "no health legislation on the table requires federal, state or local agencies — or private institutions receiving federal funds — to check the immigration status of health- program applicants, so some of the money distributed via Medicaid and tax credits inevitably would go to illegal aliens." Moreover, the Senate Finance Committee plan creates a new preference for illegal aliens by exempting them from the mandate to buy insurance.
That's right. Law-abiding, uninsured Americans would be fined if they didn't submit to the Obamacare prescription. Law-breaking border-crossers, visa- overstayers and deportation fugitives would be spared.
The solution is not to give them health insurance, but to turn off the magnets that draw them to enter illegally in the first place.
For years, advocates of uncontrolled immigration have argued that illegal aliens are not getting free health care, and that even if they were, they would not be not draining government budgets. The fiscal crisis in California gives lie to those talking points. In March, the Associated Press reported that Sacramento and Contra Costa counties were slashing staff and closing clinics due to the prohibitive costs of providing nonemergency health services for illegal immigrants.
"The general situation there is being faced by nearly every health department across the country, and if not right now, shortly," Robert M. Pestronk, executive director of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, said. The Texas state comptroller put the price tag for illegal alien hospital care at $1.3 billion in 2006. USA Today reported that from 2001 to 2004, spending for emergency Medicaid for illegal immigrants rose 28 percent in North Carolina alone. Clinics across the Midwest have also been closed under the weight of illegal immigrant care costs.
At a time when Democratic leaders are pushing rationed care in a world of limited resources, Americans might wonder where the call for shared sacrifice is from illegal immigrant patients like those in Los Angeles getting free liver and kidney transplants at UCLA Medical Center. "I'm just mad," illegal alien Jose Lopez told the Los Angeles Times last year after receiving two taxpayer- subsidized liver transplants while impatiently awaiting approval for state health insurance.
Now, multiply that sense of entitlement by 12 million to 20 million illegal immigrants. Welcome to the open-borders Obamacare nightmare.
Malkin's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.