White House Says Illegal Immigrants Will Be Explicitly Barred from Using Health Insurance Exchange

By Jacqueline Klingebiel

Sep 12, 2009 10:10am

Though the House health care reform bill, per the Congressional Research Service, explicitly prohibited illegal immigrants from receiving subsidies to purchase health insurance, with an enforcement mechanism to be designed by the Health Insurance Commissioner, the legislation did not ban illegal immigrants — millions of whom purchase private health insurance every year — from using the Health Insurance Exchange.

Additionally, current law pays for emergency health care for illegal immigrants through Emergency Medicaid. But expanding Medicaid eligibility, the House bill would also possibly increase the pool of those illegal immigrants who use Emergency Medicaid. We took a look at what the CRS report says about the House bill HERE.

But since the White House is now defending only the 2 1/2 page its health reform proposal it posted on Whitehouse.gov Wednesday night and not any actually legislation on Capitol Hill, they set the "rules."

And within this conceit, the White House has declared the following:

• "Undocumented immigrants would not be able to buy private insurance on the exchange. Those who are lawfully present in this country would be able to participate.

• "Undocumented immigrants would be able to buy insurance in the non-exchange private market, just as they do today. That market will shrink as the exchange takes hold, but it will still exist and will be subject to reforms such as the bans on pre-existing conditions and caps.

• "Verification will be required when purchasing health insurance on the exchange. One option is the SAVE program (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements) which states currently use to make sure that undocumented immigrants don’t participate in safety-net programs for which they are ineligible.

• "There would be no change in the law that requires emergency rooms to treat people who need emergency care, including undocumented immigrants. There is already a federal grant program that compensates states for emergency room costs associated with treatment of undocumented immigrants, a provision sponsored by a Republican lawmaker."

- jpt

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