Illegal Aliens One Step Closer to Getting Health Benefits

Wed Jul 22, 2009 10:11am EDT

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Ways and Means Committee Democrats Reject Amendment Designed to Limit

WASHINGTON, July 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As estimates of the costs of
President Obama's national health care overhaul soar into the trillions of
dollars, the powerful House Ways & Means Committee rejected an amendment last
Friday that would have limited the taxpayers' liability by ensuring that
illegal aliens would not qualify for the bill's health care benefits. In a
straight party line vote, the committee's 26 Democrats rejected an amendment
offered by Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) to the America's Affordable Health Care
Choices Act, H.R. 3200. 

The Heller amendment would have required the federal government to use the
database set up by the federal government for states to determine eligibility
for welfare benefits to also ensure that illegal aliens do not enroll in the
government-run public health insurance plan. It would also have barred illegal
aliens from qualifying for tax credits to subsidize the purchase of private
health insurance coverage. 

The defeated Heller amendment would have required applicants for government
provided or subsidized health care to demonstrate eligibility through the
Income and Eligibility Verification System (IEVS) and the Systematic Alien
Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) systems. Similarly, people seeking
affordability credits from the government to subsidize the purchase of private
insurance would also need to verify their eligibility through IEVS and SAVE.
These provisions would have effectively barred illegal aliens from receiving
taxpayer funded health care benefits.

"At a time when the federal government is running trillion dollar deficits,
and the projected costs of the proposed health care overhaul seem to grow with
each passing day, the committee that writes our tax laws wants Americans to
pay for the health care costs of illegal aliens," stated Dan Stein, president
of the Federation for American Immigration  Reform (FAIR). "Given the
opportunity to close loopholes that would cost the public billions of dollars
each year, Democrats on the committee unanimously rejected an amendment that
would bar illegal aliens from a national health care program."

The vote by Ways and Means Democrats came the same week that a Zogby
International poll found that 58 percent of Americans believe that excluding
illegal aliens from national health coverage is an "excellent" or "very good"
proposal for curbing costs. Only 20 percent said barring illegal aliens from
coverage was a "poor" idea. The committee vote also occurred the same week
that Massachusetts announced that it was cutting state subsidized health
benefits to legal immigrants, as costs had spiraled beyond the state's ability
to pay. 

"Ironically, immigration -- particularly illegal immigration -- has been one
of the driving forces behind the growing number of medically uninsured," Stein
noted. "According to the Census Bureau, some 10 million noncitizens lack
health coverage -- a figure that does not include their U.S.-citizen children
who are also uninsured.

"Not only do congressional Democrats and the administration want to ignore the
relationship between mass illegal immigration and the growing number of
uninsured, they refuse to place any caps on how much American taxpayers should
have to pay to provide health benefits to illegal aliens. When it comes to
satisfying the demands of the illegal alien lobby, the administration and
congressional leaders will spare no expense," concluded Stein.

The 26 members of the House Ways & Means Committee opposing the amendment
barring illegal aliens from coverage under the America's Affordable Health
Care Choices Act are:

Xavier Becerra (Calif.), Shelley Berkley (Nev.), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), Joe
Crowley (N.Y.), Artur Davis (Ala.), Danny Davis (Ill.), Lloyd Doggett (Texas),
Bob Etheridge (N.C.), Brian Higgins (N.Y.), Ron Kind (Wis.), John Larson
(Conn.), Sander Levin (Mich.), John Lewis (Ga.), Jim McDermott (Wash.),
Kendrick Meek (Fla.), Richard Neal (Mass.), Bill Pascrell (N.J.), Earl Pomeroy
(N.D.), Chairman Charlie Rangel (N.Y.), Linda Sanchez (Calif.), Allyson
Schwartz (Pa.), Pete Stark (Calif.), John Tanner (Tenn.), Mike Thompson
(Calif.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.), and John Yarmuth (Ky.).

About FAIR
Founded in 1979, FAIR is the country's largest immigration reform group.  With
over 250,000 members nationwide, FAIR fights for immigration policies that
serve national interests, not special interests.  FAIR believes that
immigration reform must enhance national security, improve the economy,
protect jobs, preserve our environment, and establish a rule of law that is
recognized and enforced.   


Ira Mehlman of FAIR, +1-206-420-7733
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