Republican members of California’s congressional delegation say the Obama Administration must prevent the state from expanding Obamacare benefits to illegal immigrants or risk further alienating Americans who have already been harmed by the sweeping healthcare law.
“This brazen attempt to circumvent the will of Congress adds insult to injury for the millions of Americans who have already been aggrieved and misled by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA),” the California lawmakers, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), wrote in a letter this week to Health and Human Services Sec. Sylvia Burwell and Treasury Sec. Jacob Lew.
Nine congressmen from the Golden State signed the letter, including Issa, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA), Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), and Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA).
The lawmakers’ letter is a response to legislation, signed into law by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, requiring the state to apply for an exemption from the Obamacare rule blocking illegal immigrants from coverage.
“California’s waiver request would raise costs to taxpayers and set an improper precedent for other states that could lead to full taxpayer-subsidized healthcare coverage for individuals who are illegally present in the United States,” the nine lawmakers wrote.
They further recalled the lengthy debates that took place prior the passage of Obamacare on the issue of illegal immigrants obtaining taxpayer-subsidized coverage. At the time, they noted, President Barack Obama offered assurances that illegal immigrants obtaining Obamacare benefits would not come to pass.
“There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false,” the lawmakers quoted Obama from his 2009 address to a to a Joint Session of Congress. “The reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.”
According to the California Republicans the Administration should stand by the president’s words and not extend Obamacare coverage to the state’s illegal population.
“California’s waiver request would exacerbate the negative effects of the President’s healthcare law and ignores Congressional intent,” they wrote. “As such, it should be denied.”
They stressed that not only would the move circumvent the intent of Congress, it would also raise the cost of the already burdensome program.
“According to a February 2016 report by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, illegal immigrants nationwide have already received $750 million in taxpayer funded subsidies in violation of the ACA,” they wrote. “Purposefully permitting additional undocumented Californians to purchase coverage on the state exchange would only make these costly errors all the more common.”
They predict that such an expansion of the program to illegal immigrants would also increase the cost to taxpayers.
“If advocates of this effort are successful in eliminating the differences between benefits available to legal and illegal populations, subsidies for plans could be made available for an average of 72% of plan costs,” they wrote. “Current tax credits and cost-sharing subsides to legal resident enrollees cost taxpayers $32 billion in 2015 alone.”
According to the nine Republicans, approving California’s waiver request would be yet another broken promise.
“If granted, this waiver would undermine the guarantee that illegal immigrants would not receive the direct ability to purchase healthcare on the exchanges,” they wrote.