Biggest Hurdle of 'Bipartisan' Immigration Plan May Be Obamacare

Biggest Hurdle of 'Bipartisan' Immigration Plan May Be Obamacare

In an interview on Rush Limbaugh’s radio program on Tuesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that one of the major issues that must be resolved if a bipartisan immigration reform policy is to succeed is President Obama’s signature health care reform law. 

Rubio said that, according to existing law, those who are “lawfully present” in the country, but not in possession of a green card, do not qualify for any federal benefits, except for one–ObamaCare.

The senator said:

ObamaCare is the only federal benefit where you qualify for it, not because you have a green card but only because you’re lawfully present. That issue needs to be resolved because if ObamaCare is available to 11 million people, it blows a hole in our budget and makes this bill undoable. That’s one of the major issues we’re gonna have to confront. 

This issue seems just as big, and loaded with political implications, as that of first securing the nation’s borders.

Back in September of 2009 in a nationally televised speech to a joint session of Congress, President Obama spoke about the relationship between his health care reform bill and illegal immigrants. In the now famous clip from that speech, Obama said, “The reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.”

When Obama spoke these words, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) shouted from his seat in the House, “You lie!”


Congressman Wilson apologized for his remark, but was formally rebuked by Democrats in Congress the following week. However, as ObamaCare rules and regulations have continued to be written, the meaning of Wilson’s comment now rings true.

In August of 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it had awarded $28.8 million to 67 community health centers with funds from the ObamaCare health reform law. It was announced that approximately $8.5 million of that amount would be used by 25 New Access Point awardees to target services to migrant and seasonal farm workers. 

In addition, spokeswoman for Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Judy Andrews said that grant recipients would not check the immigration status of people seeking services.

“Health centers do not, as a matter of routine practice, ask about or collect data on citizenship or other matters not related to the treatment needs of the patients seeking health services at the center,” Andrews said.

She added that the grant recipients are required to serve “all residents” who walk through their doors.

From this, then, it is likely the Obama administration would plan to spend, or “invest” even more funds in health care for illegal immigrants. A proposal for Democrats and President Obama to change this policy would seem to be a tall order for them politically, yet a necessary principle for Republicans to uphold if real immigration reform is to be meaningful.