By Benjamin Yount | Illinois Watchdog
SPRINGFIELD — Almost everyone involved with Obamacare in Illinois insist undocumented residents won’t receive health insurance subsidies or be eligible for Medicaid.
But while the rules may be clear, the lines could be blurred because many of the groups being paid to inform and enroll people into Obamacare currently serve documented and undocumented people in Chicago’s large Hispanic neighborhoods.
Six of the 44 community groups that are splitting $27 million for “outreach and enrollment” for Obamacare currently serve
“bicultural” neighborhoods in Chicago’s Latino community.
“The majority of our clients are undocumented,” said Carmen Velasquez, executive director at Alivio Medical Center in Chicago. “We see about 28,000 people a year, and a good majority are undocumented.”
Alivio is receiving $66,560 to hire two people to help educate patients about Obamacare and enroll them in either the insurance marketplace or Illinois’ expanded Medicaid program.
But if most of Alivio’s patients are not eligible for Obamacare or Medicaid, should taxayers be worried that some undocumented people will end up on the government health care rolls?
No, said Velazquez.
“It is very clear that undocumented people are not eligible for Obamacare. Period,” Velazquez said. “It is part of the rules.”
Buried in the thousands of pages that make up Obamacare rules there are clear instructions that undocumented people are not eligible for the program.
“Federal regulations (45 CFR 155.305), only lawfully present individuals may purchase plans on the Marketplace,” Mike Claffey, spokesman for Illinois’ Department of Insurance, the administer for Obamacare, said in an email. “Additionally, per Federal regulations (45 CFR 155.315), to verify that the individually is lawfully present, the Marketplace will check with the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security to confirm that the individual is lawfully present.”
Anyone applying for Obamacare will have to provide a Social Security number and check a box declaring their immigration status.
But Ben Domenech, a research fellow at the Heartland Institute, is quick to point out that verification only works when someone actually checks to make sure applicants are telling the truth.
“With the expanded promotion of Obamacare’s launch, the undocumented are likely to try to sign up as well,” Domenech said. “And by dramatically reducing the verification checks for income eligibility, the Obama administration has increased the likelihood that those with fake Social Security numbers and false mailing addresses will get through the system and access taxpayer-funded subsidies.”
Velazquez said that just because the undocumented are not covered by Obamacare and Medicaid does not mean they should go without care.
“The longer you deprive people of medical care, the more money it will cost in the long run,” Velazquez said.
Domenech said undocumented people in Illinois already receive care, and taxpayers already pay for it.
“Medicaid already pays over $2 billion a year to hospitals to compensate them for treatment of those here illegally,” Domenech added.
Illinois’ outreach and enrollment programs will begin soon. The Obamacare marketplaces are supposed to open October 1. People are supposed to be able to receive health insurance on Jan 1.
Contact Benjamin Yount at Ben@IllinoisWatchdog.org and find him on Twitter @BenYount.