Appearing on CNBC this morning, Mark Krikorian propagated the now popular misconception that undocumented immigrants will receive health care subsidies if health care reform passes. Krikorian slammed Democrats for being dishonest with the Americans and decried the absence of a verification mechanism to assure undocumented immigrants do not receive coverage on the taxpayers’ dime:
KRIKORIAN: So the fact is what’s even more important, as far as the political prospects of the bill, is not so much that illegal immigrants will benefit — because they will — it’s the dishonesty of claiming to the public that illegal immigrants won’t benefit, while winking and nodding to the supporters of illegal immigration making clear that illegal immigrants will not be checked and they will be able to sign up.
Nativists and health care fear mongers have welcomed Krikorian’s argument with open arms, citing his concerns as just another reason why Americans should be opposed to “Obamacare” and immigration alike. However, former Undersecretary of Commerce Robert Shapiro — who appeared on CNBC alongside Krikorian — calls the debate at hand a “textbook case of a phony issue.”
Sec. 242 and 246 of America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 explicitly state that only individuals who are lawfully present in US will receive any of the benefits and §142(a)(3) appoints the Health Choices Commissioner with the responsibility of determining the eligibility of individual affordability credits which implies that he or she will also be in charge of instituting a verification mechanism. Other policy experts have also indicated that verification mechanisms are best determined after the bill is passed which allows the government to choose one that matches the underlying process for receiving the benefits allowed. The two amendments to verify citizenship were voted down because one would have given private insurance providers unprecedented access to the sensitive income and identity information of all those applying for health care assistance and the other would have “imposed a burdensome and costly documentation procedure that we know has been a sledgehammer for a non-existent problem.”
In the meantime, if immigration reform doesn’t pass, the health care bill will probably end up hurting undocumented immigrants more than it helps them. A report released by the Congressional Research Service shows that many immigrants who aren’t eligible for federal assistance will be forced to either purchase insurance at their own expense or face serious fines and penalties that will apply to all “resident aliens” and citizens alike. With that said, no one expects a health care bill to fix one of the many products of our country’s broken immigration system and that’s why it makes sense that Shapiro stated that it should be addressed by immigration reform, not health care reform. He also called Krikorian out on national television:
SHAPIRO: What I’d like to ask the other guest [Krikorian] and all these other opponents — if that [verification mechanism] was accepted would you then support health care reform?
KRIKORIAN: I don’t do health care reform, I do immigration.
SHAPIRO: Yeah, right.
In other words, Krikorian knows that his participation in the debate is contingent on his ability to use immigration to “whip up fear and anger” around health care reform while effectively winking and nodding at those who are working to block it.