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Debunking myths about health insurance for illegal immigrants

By Olesia Plokhii Mar 13 2009, 10:35 AM

In response to ongoing email chains and rumors inspired from claims by some Republicans and anti-immigration zealots like Lou Dobbs that the new State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) Re-authorization Act of 2009 includes benefits for undocumented immigrant children, OhMyGov! decided to conduct an investigation and set the record straight.

Our initial review found that the media monitoring group, Media Matters, had already noted an onslaught of rumor perpetuation on CNN.

On the February 4 broadcast of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, correspondent Lisa Sylvester again uncritically reported Republican claims that legislation extending the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) -- signed that day by President Obama - ‘loosens the identity document requirement so that even people living in the United States illegally might be able to access the program.' Introducing the report, host Lou Dobbs also stated that ‘opponents say it will make it easier for illegal aliens to receive taxpayer-funded health insurance.' During the report, onscreen text read: 'Healthcare For Illegal Aliens,' and 'New law may give healthcare to illegal aliens.' However, neither Sylvester nor Dobbs mentioned that the legislation includes a citizenship verification process in which states would use SCHIP applicants' names and Social Security numbers to verify that they are eligible, as Media Matters for America has noted.

Following up on the report, OhMyGov! interviewed a House spokesperson for additional clarification, seeking to find out if illegal immigrants were in fact given insurance in the SCHIP bill.  

"No, it's not true," said Carlos Sanchez, Press Advisor to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "Under the current law, undocumented immigrants do not get [health] services."

In fact, to deter undocumented immigrants from trying to get medical care for their illegal children, the new law requires SCHIP to comply with citizenship documentation through the Social Security Administration, just like Medicaid.

"We didn't change that part of the law," Sanchez said about not including coverage for illegal children under the new law. "We just expanded."

The expansion Sanchez speaks of is one of the three main provisions to the original SCHIP law, whose ten-year authorization expired in September 2007, and has since been on life-support after being vetoed twice by George Bush during his last term in office.

The new legislation, signed into law by President Obama February 4, will add 4.1 million uninsured children to the 7 million already covered under SCHIP.  It also allows states to choose whether or not they want to treat legal immigrant children and pregnant women who have been in the U.S. less than five years.

"The current five-year wait period can mean the difference between preventing or treating health conditions that can affect a child's prospects for a healthy and productive life - or leaving those conditions undetected and not prevented, costing taxpayers much more in the long run," House speaker Nancy Pelosi's website reads. "Similarly, a pregnant woman cannot wait five years for pre-natal care that will help her have a healthy baby."

SCHIP was created 12 years ago to insure children who didn't qualify for Medicaid but couldn't afford private health insurance.

The funding for the four-and-one-half-year $32.8 billion SCHIP package is ironically extracted from of the pockets of Americans smokers. Thanks to an increase in the federal tobacco tax that is projected to generate $31.3 billion over the next four years, an estimated 45 million smokers will make the ultimate tradeoff: their health for the health of children.

Also Interesting:

[+] OhMyGov! interviews Wonkette's Managing Editor

[+] Gardasil Vaccine Required for Young Women Seeking Immigration to U.S.

[+] Number of illegal immigrants decreasing

[+] Number of illegal immigrants in U.S. may be closer to 20 million

[+] The cost of illegal immigrants

[+] Illegal Immigrants in the prison system

[+] Homeland Security officials hired illegal immigrants for home cleaning


Read More: Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Congress, Immigration, Taxes And Spending


Mark Montgomery
March 13, 2009 1:21 PM

I think it's ironic that the republicans and neocons who bitch the most about immigrants are the biggest receivers of benefits from the labor that the immigrants do, since they own most of the businesses. I am SO glad that Bush is gone, we FINALLY have an intelligent president and rational executive and legislative branches of government. During the Cheney-Bush debacle I was sure we were going to start a nuclear war, Bush was SUCH a moron. Mark Montgomery boboberg@nyc.rr.com

March 13, 2009 1:27 PM

I'm pretty sure they are talking about illegal aliens, not immigrants. Immigrants are LEGAL; please use the correct terms or you are no better than what you accuse Dobbs of being, nothing more than a shill.

March 13, 2009 1:33 PM

Great "investigative" "journalism". Next time, point out that under their lax rules it's fairly easy for illegal aliens to obtain benefits. And, a state like CA could give basically all the benefits to illegal aliens it wanted and then might have to pay for it later out of its own pockets. Considering that many CA legislators already act like agents of the Mexicangovernment, they aren't going to mind too much.

March 14, 2009 5:26 PM

Illegal aliens already get free health care at taxpayer expense. Go to any emergency room and you'll see the waiting room swamped with them. They also have anchor babies that qualify them for welfare, housing and food stamps until the kid turns 18, all at taxpayer expense. We all see the pandering and bias by crooked politicians. There are traitors in government that don't give a damn about this country or our citizens. I'm sick of pro amnesty groups calling Americans racists. The term illegal alien does not specify race. They can't justify illegal immigration so they cry racism. This country is being bankrupted by millions of foreign nationals. This massive invasion by millions of illegals is an act of war! Enforce our laws and secure our borders. It's our government's responsibility to protect American citizens, not illegal aliens. If you are an illegal alien, GO HOME! If you hire illegal aliens, fire them now and hire legal workers while you can. You will be arrested, prosecuted, fined and jailed. It's not worth it.

Marge Wood
March 15, 2009 9:18 PM

The author neglects to give the data that illegal aliens having "anchor babies" are all being funded by taxpayers under "presumptive medicaid" where the illegal alien monther is given medicaid through the time of her delivery due and the child immediately supported my Medicaid at birth and thereafter.  The dirty little secret is that many SCHIP recipients are the anchor babies of illegal aliens. That is why we are going bankrupt and being flooded by third world aliens. Get your head of the sand and do some honest reporting. Millions of illegal aliens have American born children and are raping this country blind as "new Americans". No...they are not the same as responsible immigrants who came here lawfully and are not looking for a handout.

Chris King
March 16, 2009 4:28 PM

You can get a SS# for $250.00.

June 8, 2009 9:37 AM

I worked the border in El Paso. Mx National women with border crossing cards would come over when pregnant and use the county hospital and get free birthing services and walk away with a US birth certificate for their child. At age five they would bring them across and demand to know where the eleementary schools were for their US citizen. If you go down to the Paso del Norte bridge any Monday thru Friday on School weeks the immigration people have a lane opened for these kids. They say that there may be 60% of the kids living in MX are US citizens. The hospital sent a bill for ten million to congress in the early 80s who knows what the cost is now. No health care without a national ID card. I can't get free health care in MX and Canada why should they be able to come here for free health care.

June 21, 2009 7:02 PM


Nothing personal here, but illegals are thieves and their anchor babies can not continue to be allowed citizen status.

Check out NumbersUSA.com for what these criminal aliens are costing us.

August 3, 2009 8:03 PM

the majority of uninsured is illegal aliens , and yet republicans re too stupid to too see that if the government were to give them health insurance at a cost, they will prevent more ER patients thus saving taxpayer money.... its ridicule for a rep-dem to say thats a benefit to ilegals.

Dr. E
August 4, 2009 3:17 PM

It is ridiculous that many people who were born in this country think that ALL illegal immigrants are taking free health care from this country at no cost. I have seen them all. I have seen the good the bad and the ugly in our practice. One of the things I would like to bring up is that fact that if we spend less than 25% of what we are paying for in the hospitals to treat these illegal immigrants, we cound provide a service of prevention for these individuals. That would save 75% of our taxpayer money that would otherwise go to the hospitals who provide the care. I have also seen responsible illegal immigrants to petition for a tax id # so that they may claim their taxes at the end of the year. These individuals pay taxes but receive nothing back from the government. They just work and live their normal life without having to suck up all the resources that our government has to offer. When they get sick, they go to a clinic and pay full price out of pocket or they go to a county clinic that provides service at a reduced price. Prevention is key so let's act proactively and put in 25% of the total money we are spending on the illegal immigrants for a prevention program.

August 10, 2009 5:08 PM

Dr E I understand what you mean, but it is not in our best interests to support illegals with free health care, even if would help our bottom line. They do incidentally suck up public funded services including $6K per year K-12 to educate their kids, more subsidized buses and trains, more road repairs, section 8 housing with a $100 false ID. They remind me of the movie the Blob. A gelatinous blob moving down the street sucking up natural resources and human lives, and leaving a trail of hazardous droppings.

K A Taylor
March 12, 2010 1:07 PM

I don't care whether they're here legally or illegally; what I don't like is immigrants obtaining Medicare and Medicaid when they haven't worked in this country long enough to collect Social Security. I work for a massive health insurance company that contracts with Medicare and see the accounts of thousands of senior citizens who can't afford their Part D plans or their Medicare deductibles while aliens and their entire families have these covered by CMS. It's appalling and it's seriously draining both Medicare and Social Security.

sick of lies
March 17, 2010 4:32 PM

my mom has cancer was a nurse 30 years has 1 years for medicare and her retierment kicks in in 1 year she pays 800 a month and my dad who had a stroke has to go to the VA cause they can't aford it are the smokers gonna pay for them to?

March 19, 2010 6:42 PM

Illegals do so get free healthcare, they also get welfare which welfare PROVIDES medi-cal for them also, for FREE! Don't believe what people tell you. Obama has done NOTHING since in office over a year ago and has been just making things worth, so Mark i don't know where you get the idea that he is "intelligent" If you just look at the heathcare reform bill he is trying to pass you would see you are sadly mistaken. I don't understand why there are ignorant Americans who think its ok that Illegals have rights here, when Americans can't even get healthcare for themselves! Its bull, and wrong and this country is going to crap.

March 19, 2010 6:43 PM

" think it's ironic that the republicans and neocons who bitch the most about immigrants" You sir need to look up the definition of stereotyping.

March 19, 2010 6:49 PM

" One of the things I would like to bring up is that fact that if we spend less than 25% of what we are paying for in the hospitals to treat these illegal immigrants"

Are you stupid? Its not how many are getting healthcare illegally, its the fact that they ARE getting healthcare when millions of americans CANT. Can't afford it, don't qualify, whatever. Yet Illegals are getting it OVER AMERICANS. In case you forgot this is AMERICA not MEXICO. There is NO reason, none at all , that we should provide illegals with healthcare NONE. If they do it LEGALLY then it would been no problem for anyone but its bull that they can be here, get free healthcare, still speak spanish (since the majority of jobs now days require you to speak spanish IN AMERICA) and have jobs. And i cannot believe how many Americans are so obnoxiously stupid when it comes to this.

Also A Proud Citizen
August 20, 2010 9:46 PM

Oh please! I am a Proud American! my parents came to this country to have a better life just as your ancestors did years ago! What makes your background different than mine. My parents and most illegal immigrants do not want to come here illegally but are forced to. What do you think that they say oh today Im going to the United States to take advantage of the great Health Care. Please.... I am a teacher, and my parents taught me the same things yours did. My husband is an illegal immigrant and let me tell you he can not get free health care. We go to the doctor and pay for all of his visits with our own money. And please "Achor Babies" what is that. They come her to have babies, you are so full of it its not even funny. Why don't you admitt how racist you really are. All of those are stereotypes that are perpetuated by ignorant people who don't know one thing about illegal immigrants except for what they hear on tv. If you would get to know some you would see how they are caring are not here to take anything from anyone. Oh yeah and why don't you talk about the millions of dollars that the government is keeping because those people do not get to do their taxes each year and so the government gets to keep all of that money. Don't tell me about that when I live it! Open your eyes and see the truth! Your family came here just as ours did to find an better opportunity and nothing more. They are taking nothing from no one! I love my country and so do all of my illegal "alien" family members.

December 3, 2010 7:50 PM

i am worried that we as american's are sinking as more crime and more food stamps go out to illegal aliens. but as americans we can not get help if we get down to pick our self up as too many food stamp usage by illegal alien becaus their children thay comne to have to use for free hand outs and its our tax dollars. it looks as if it is set to bring america down and that is that.we have lost so many jobs to the trade and that is when america went down down down and now we have fallen and it looks as if we can't get up but it is not our spending but our leaders and we get taxed more for their thoughtless actions and what to do? in the long run we are not racist we are trying to be smart by taking care of what we have worked for and not allowed by our leader's who keep acting like k.101 putting the blame and not trying to fix anything ... i say work together and act like grown ups and stop fighting and try to fix thing's and stop wasting money.everyone should have to be put on a tight budget yes even our leaders and try to live as most americans have to more and more job loss even jobs that were the backbone of america was the trade better really..... thats why all the toys and food is so very unsafe as well as the meds we take now ..... it starts at home to help not other countries.... we are drained in so many way's. read between the lines. we need to start somewhere.. like the war gaurd our borders and air ways and even stop traveling tighten the strings and build america back. we can never help in this war or build it back but we can make america strong and it can be done... if our leaders could get along who cares if (R) or a (D) as long as the leader is doing right and has our true interest at heart not to gain power and be a true leader for us stop fighting and all do right and send the illegals back no matter where they are from america is not strong enough for our own we can not and take on all countries to live off us now.too much monies have been borrowed and even our rtirement that was our money not our leader have been wasted. and who and how many are in health to work until they are 72 or 69 years of age... work and die while on the job that isn't right as we want a life to rest not die on our jobs or be in nursing homes. no simple answer now is there too long the turning of heads because our leader's wasted for way too long and now what do we do just let it get more and more in hot water..... or get all the illegal aliens out even the jails and prisons would be less in person.... and we would not have all the welfare in the children born to all the illegal alians that is why they come here just work with them they laugh about it because they state we are stupid. and can put on the tears to get us to feel sorry for them and the children are vitims but so are our children here that are lossing homes and going hungery because of jogs being lost and the high cost of everything our children can't get the help as a illegal alien can get i have seen this time and time in my work and this worries me because it will only get worse as time goes by and our leader's fight who is right and who is wrong just stand up and get your acts together and do something for your people so the americans will stand behind you all.

August 12, 2011 2:11 PM

Gosh, even when presented with facts, figures, charts, numbers and quotes from laws, people are still clinging to  the ' illegals are getting more than me, gosh darn it, we should clean up our blah dee blah, it ain't fair, blah dee blah! ' Hospital emergency rooms are required, by law, to treat you, no matter if you can pay or not. Is that the flood of illegals ya'll keep foaming and frothing over? And people wanting better lives for their children...what a concept. And please remember your ancestors migrated here, too, from somewhere else...they were once looked down upon and stereotyped and treated badly, too. And I notice a lot of the acid-flinging isn't directed at Canadians, Australians, Germans, Italians, Greeks, Norwegians, the French, etc. And one of the comments directed people to actually ask people if they were getting free stuff. Which would be first-hand actual evidence, not just hearsay, myth, legend, vitriol and dogma.

September 29, 2011 2:14 AM

I actually called the governor of my state to ask if illegal immigrants were on the waiting list for state health program. They are. I have been waiting for medical assistance for almost 3 years now, yet illegals can also apply for emergency medicaid. I cannot. I've tried.

Sorry, but there is no country on earth that treats its citizens this way. Mexicans need to go back to Mexico where they can get care. I cannot go to Mexico or Canada and exploit their human services.

People that are backing illegal immigrants "right to taxpayer funded welfare programs" have never been in situation where they have to compete for badly needed help.

Vander Heuvel and others like her, go home to their posh neighborhoods. They are out of touch with reality when it comes to this subject.












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