There are also those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms — the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.
That was the point at which Rep. Joe Wilson shouted, “you lie,” and led to today’s national dialog about whether people who are here illegally will have access to health care. Notice, however, that the president didn’t say they would. He didn’t say they wouldn’t. He said “the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.”
That’s different than saying government won’t pay for access to health care for people who are in the United States illegally. It already is. Technically.
Take Minnesota, for example.
Technically, “Nonimmigrants” and “undocumented persons” are not eligible for General Assistance, welfare, Minnesota Supplemental Aid, SSI, Food Support, Emergency General Assistance, and MinnesotaCare. But, again technically, they have access to government-subsidized health care even though they don’t. How can both be true?
The 2003 Legislature eliminated GAMC coverage (General Assistance Medical Care) for nonimmigrants and undocumented persons who are under age 18, age 65 or older, blind, or disabled. It also eliminated GAMC coverage for all other nonimmigrants and undocumented persons.
But, according to the Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department, “Nonimmigrants and undocumented persons who meet MA eligibility criteria, such as children under age 21, parents of children under age 18, people who are age 65 or older, blind, or disabled, may be eligible for treatment of emergency medical conditions (including labor and delivery costs for pregnant women) under Emergency MA.” That’s federally funded.
In Minnesota and the U.S., SCHIP, the children’s health insurance program, provides undocumented and nonimmigrants prenatal and delivery care through the end of the month in which the child is born.
Technically, that’s government-subsidized health care.
So who’s right? That’s the problem. Technically both sides are. Especially when it’s boiled down to sound bites and talk show rhetoric. That’s why there needs to be more attention to the details of the various plans being discussed. The “immigrant issue” is a technicality being used to sway people who can’t be bothered with such things.