HHS official: Immigrants who are 'lawfully present' but not citizens qualify for Obamacare subsidies

During little-noticed testimony last Thursday before the House Ways and Means Committee on the implementation of Obamacare, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Insurance Oversight Director Gary Cohen told lawmakers that anyone “lawfully present” inside the United States would qualify for Obamacare subsidies even if they are not citizens.

“It was my understanding it was just going to be those that are citizens of the United States or here as permanent legal residents,” Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA) asked Cohen at the hearing, an exchange first picked up by PJ Media’s Nick Ballasy. “Are there folks beyond that that are eligible for tax credit – taxpayer subsidies under this program?”

“You have to be a citizen or lawfully present,” Cohen replied to Gerlach.

Gerlach followed up to ask Cohen what “lawfully present” means. “Well, you could be here on a student visa and be eligible,” he said.

Gerlach followed up again with another hypothetical scenario: “Somebody comes here to the United States on a travel visa, has a visa for a certain period of time, a number of months, and perhaps wants to stay longer, will that person be able to apply for tax subsidized insurance coverage while here?”

“If they overstay the visa, then no,” Cohen answered.

“But they can apply while they’re here legally, lawfully?” Gerlach clarified.

“I believe so, yes,” Cohen replied.

The Senate’s “Gang of Eight” bill confers “lawfully present” status to all illegal aliens inside the United States, but for the purposes of Obamacare, considers those who would gain such status, referred to as “Registered Provisional Immigrant” or RPI status, as “not lawfully present.” It is thus far unclear if the Obama administration could provide them with subsidies via its own interpretation of the various laws via their implementation.

Regardless of whether or not illegal aliens granted RPI status would get access to Obamacare subsidies in the end, Gerlach caught a major nexus point between the immigration and health care battles the left and the Democrats are waging: the administration does plan to use U.S. taxpayer resources to give Obamacare subsidies to foreigners in America on student visas, travel visas and other things like that.

A GOP congressional aide told Breitbart News that more things like this exist in the Senate bill. “The congressman made a good catch of course and this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we’d expect to come out of a conference with the Senate bill,” the aide said. “That’s why, at least behind the scenes, so many are trying to protect against that necessarily consequential development. The fear is that House leadership in both parties wants to allow the opposition to burn out their engines so that by the end of the year they’ve got, as Chuck Schumer actually put it, ‘hope yes, vote no’ crowd wins the day.”

The aide is referring to remarks Schumer made earlier this year when he said, according to Politico:

Schumer, who has spearheaded immigration reform, told the business groups that they need to join with Senate Democrats and Republicans to convince a majority of House Republicans to approach Boehner and ask him to abandon his pledge to follow the Hastert Rule — a standard that would prohibit him from bringing a bill to the floor that doesn’t have the support of the majority of House Republicans. Schumer said he hopes these Republicans would tell Boehner that they ‘hope yes, vote no’ — meaning they want the bill to pass, but can’t be seen supporting it.


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