Fox figures ignore health bill's ban on subsidies for illegal immigrants

››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

After Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) accused President Obama of lying for stating that health care reform "would not apply to those who are here illegally," media have cited a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, highlighted by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), which found that under the House bill, illegal immigrants would not be prohibited from purchasing insurance through the health insurance exchange established by the bill. However, Fox News' Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren and Fox Business Network's Peter Barnes ignored that the bill would require illegal immigrants to purchase insurance with their own money, just as they currently are able to do for private insurance, and that the CRS report they are citing specifically notes that the bill prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving federal subsidies to assist low-income families purchasing insurance.

Fox figures, guests cite CRS conclusion that illegal immigrants can buy insurance in exchanges under HR 3200

Hannity: CRS conclusion is "the direct opposite of what the president said." During an interview with Wilson, Hannity stated, "Congressional Research -- they actually investigated this and it said, in fact -- well, why don't you tell everybody, in fact, what they found is the direct opposite of what the president said?" Wilson stated that "the Congressional Research office, just last month, in August, they did a study and indicated that there were no restrictions against providing -- or not enforceable restrictions -- for illegal aliens to fully participate in the programs." [Fox News' Hannity, 9/10/09]

Hannity previously distorted a quote from the CRS report to falsely claim that the health care reform bill "does not contain any restrictions on non-citizens whether legally or illegally present." [Hannity, 8/26/09]

Greta guest Pataki cited CRS analysis to assert Obama's statements "really raise questions." With reference to Obama's statement that "the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally," former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) said, "[I]f you look at the record -- the Congressional Research Service has done a detailed analysis of the health care bills, and they have said flat out that illegal immigrants will be eligible under the insurance exchange to purchase the insurance that is offered there. Now, I mean, I -- that's in the bill. That's not a partisan analysis. That's not my analysis. It's what others have concluded." Van Susteren did not note that the CRS report also states that undocumented immigrants are prohibited from receiving federal subsidies under the health care reform bills. [Fox News' On the Record, 9/10/09]

Peter Barnes report quoted Boehner citing CRS report. Barnes' report included video of Boehner stating, "The facts are CRS says there's nothing in this bill that will prevent these people from getting this type of insurance." After his report, Barnes stated, "So that was Republican leader John Boehner actually trying to make some arguments on the merits of this." [Fox Business' Happy Hour, 9/10/09]

But illegal immigrants would pay out of pocket for insurance and are barred from receiving federal subsidies

PolitiFact: "[I]t seems that health reform leaves in place the status quo on illegal immigration." PolitiFact.com concluded that Wilson's accusation that Obama lied about health care reform applying to undocumented immigrants is "[f]alse" and stated that "it's worth pointing out that illegal immigrants participating in the exchange would be paying for their insurance like everyone else. That's similar to the current system":

But it's worth pointing out that illegal immigrants participating in the exchange would be paying for their insurance like everyone else. That's similar to the current system -- we're not aware of any particular restrictions that stop illegal immigrants from buying private insurance now. Under health care reform, illegal immigrants would be able to buy private insurance or the public option.

When we look at all of this evidence, it seems that health reform leaves in place the status quo on illegal immigration, and certainly does not provide any new benefits particularly for illegal immigrants.

CRS report: "[U]nauthorized aliens would be barred from receiving" subsidy under House bill. From the August 25 CRS report, "Treatment of Noncitizens in H.R. 3200":

In addition, under H.R. 3200, a "Health Insurance Exchange" would begin operation in 2013 and would offer private plans alongside a public option. The Exchange would provide eligible individuals and small businesses with access to insurers' plans, including the public option, in a comparable way. Individuals would only be eligible to enroll in an Exchange plan if they were not enrolled in other acceptable coverage (for example, from an employer, Medicare and generally Medicaid). H.R. 3200 does not contain any restrictions on noncitzens participating in the Exchange -- whether the noncitizens are legally or illegally present, or in the United States temporarily or permanently. Nonetheless, only aliens who could be classified as resident aliens would be required under the bill to have health insurance.

In 2013, under H.R. 3200, some individuals would be eligible for premium credits (i.e., subsidies based on income) toward their required purchase of health insurance. To be eligible for the premium credits under H.R. 3200, individuals must be lawfully present in a state in the United States, excluding most nonimmigrants (i.e., those in the United States for a specific purpose and a specific period of time). The exceptions for nonimmigrants who could obtain premium credits under H.R. 3200 would be trafficking victims, crime victims, fiancées of U.S. citizens, and those who have had applications for legal permanent residence (LPR) status pending for three years. It is expected that almost all aliens in these excepted nonimmigrant categories will become LPRs (i.e., immigrants) and remain in the United States permanently. Furthermore, unauthorized aliens would be barred from receiving the premium credit. (emphasis added)

House bill states that those "not lawfully present" may not receive subsidies to purchase insurance. From the "Individual Affordability Credits" section of the America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009:

SEC. 242. AFFORDABLE CREDIT ELIGIBLE INDIVIDUAL.

(a) DEFINITION. --

(1) IN GENERAL. -- For purposes of this division, the term ''affordable credit eligible individual'' means, subject to subsection (b), an individual who is lawfully present in a State in the United States (other than as a nonimmigrant described in a subparagraph (excluding subparagraphs (K), (T), (U), and (V)) of section 101(a)(15) of the Immigration and Nationality Act) --

[...]

SEC. 246. NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS.

Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.

Senate HELP bill also excludes those "not lawfully present" from federal funding. From the "Making Coverage Affordable" section of the Affordable Health Choices Act:

(h) NO FEDERAL FUNDING. -- Nothing in this Act shall allow Federal payments for individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.

Transcripts

From the September 10 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:

PATAKI: And then, of course, he made the statement that I can assure you no illegal immigrant is going to get any benefit under this bill. Well, all these assertions, I think, really raise questions. And, certainly, this one does. And if you look at the record -- the Congressional Research Service has done a detailed analysis of the health care bills, and they have said flat out that illegal immigrants will be eligible under the insurance exchange to purchase the insurance that is offered there.

Now, I mean, I -- that's in the bill. That's not a partisan analysis. That's not my analysis. It's what others have concluded. So, I think, you know, there has to be true negotiation. There can't be this effort to say, if you disagree with the proposals that you are somehow trying to be political or prevent any reform. We all know reform is necessary, but let's take the time to make sure we do it right.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Governor, one of the things that your party says -- Republicans say, is that -- that the Democrats have defeated -- and this is what I'm reading from the Republicans -- had defeated successfully every amendment that would require proof of legal residence from those seeking health care benefits.

Now, I suppose we could sort of put this thing to rest by putting something in there, a phrase or two, so that we wouldn't have this argument, because -- because the Democrats say it's not going to cover illegal immigrants. The Republicans say, OK, we want proof of it by language in it. And the Democrats, apparently, are defeating any language. So this is an easy fix if we can get everybody talking.

PATAKI: Greta, absolutely right. And that's part of the reason that, at this point, you don't have a bipartisan bill, because the rhetoric says, "Let's come together." But when Republicans offer a simple solution to the question of whether or not illegal immigrants will be covered by saying flat out, in language, that no benefits will be given to anyone in this country illegally under any provision of this bill, the Democrats say, "Oh, no. We can't put that in the bill."

And it makes you wonder, if they're not willing to support that language, what really is within that bill? And I think, as I've pointed out, there are a number of areas where, at the very least, there's a possibility that illegal immigrants would be covered. And in certain areas, neutral groups have said, yes, flat out, they will be covered.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, they're certainly -- I'll tell you one thing. It certainly doesn't appear like there's a lot of talking going back and forth. A lot of finger-pointing on this one; a lot of unanswered questions as well -- as the tea party people have -- at least, they claim they have lots of questions. But Governor, thank you, sir.

From the September 10 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

HANNITY: Well, let's talk about this, because Congressional Research -- they actually investigated this and it said --

WILSON: Yes.

HANNITY: -- in fact -- well, why don't you tell everybody, in fact, what they found is the direct opposite of what the president said?

WILSON: And we had the Congressional Research office, just last month, in August, they did a study and indicated that there were no restrictions against providing -- or not enforceable restrictions -- for illegal aliens to fully participate in the programs.

HANNITY: All right. Here's the question, because I read the bill, every page of it. And --

WILSON: I did, too.

HANNITY: And I -- your interpretation -- I agree with Congressional Research office on immigration. I also believe that they've come up with a sneaky way to fund abortions, although they're -- they're denying it.

From the September 10 edition of Fox Business Network's Happy Hour:

BARNES: You see the look on Nancy Pelosi's face, the House Speaker. Everybody, Republican and Democrat, were shocked by this -- by this "you lie" finger-pointing moment by Joe Wilson. Now, it's obviously reverberated around the Capitol, everybody saying that this broke the decorum of the address and broke -- broke the decorum of the session, was actually a violation of House rules.

House members are not supposed to do this. So today, some Democrats really got cranked up about this, even after Joe Wilson got the ball rolling with an apology.

[begin video clip]

WILSON: Well, I last night heard from the leadership that they wanted me to contact the White House and state that my statements were inappropriate. I did. I'm very grateful that the White House, in talking with them, they indicated that they appreciated the call and that we needed to have a civil discussion about the health care issues. And I certainly agree with that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you accept Wilson's apology?

OBAMA: Yes, I -- yes, I do. I'm a big believer that we all make mistakes. He apologized quickly and without equivocation, and I'm appreciative of that.

BOEHNER: The facts are CRS says there's nothing in this bill that will prevent these people from getting this type of insurance. And, secondly, as I pointed out, Democrats on two different committees had two opportunities to make it clear that illegal immigrants aren't going to be covered under this plan. And they rejected both of them.

[end video clip]

BARNES: OK. So that was Republican leader John Boehner actually trying to make some arguments on the merits of this. But still, that hasn't settled this whole thing. House Speaker Pelosi says, as far as she's concerned, the apology is fine and she wants to move on. But a couple of her top deputies in the leadership are trying -- have been trying all day to organize a formal censure of Wilson unless he agrees to go to the chamber, to the well of the House, and publicly apologize again.

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