Pants on Fire: Who’s lying and who’s not on health care and illegal immigrants

Early this morning, I got an e-mail from Jim Clyburn’s office pointing me to this St. Petersburg Times fact-check site, which rated claims that Obamacare would institute free health care for illegal immigrants in its “Pants on Fire” category:

Finally, we consulted with Jennifer Tolbert, an independent health care analyst at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan foundation that studies health care reform. Tolbert has read and analyzed all the major health proposals, including those of the Republicans, and the foundation provides point-by-point analyses of the plans on its Web site.

We’re hardened, battle-scarred fact-checkers, so false claims in e-mails don’t really surprise us anymore. But we sent Tolbert a copy of the latest from our in-box, and she was none too pleased.

“It’s awful,” she said. “It’s flat-out, blatant lies. It’s unbelievable to me how they can claim to reference the legislation and then make claims that are blatantly false.”

The claim that the bill provides free health care for illegal immigrants is particularly egregious, Tolbert said. “No one’s provided with free health care. That’s ridiculous,” she said.

We looked for promises of free health care for immigrants and found nothing. So we’ve rated this claim Pants on Fire!

Then, this afternoon, I ran across this CNN Truth Squad item, which found the following after Sen. Ben Cardin was jeered for saying his bill would not cover illegals:

The bill, HR 3200, would set up a health insurance “exchange,” in which consumers could compare policies and choose a plan. It would create a government-run health plan to compete with private insurers in that exchange, and extend subsidies for coverage to people who aren’t already covered by employers or federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

It specifically bars illegal immigrants from receiving those subsidies. Section 246, which is included in the part of the bill that sets up the exchange, forbids payments “on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.”

But when Cardin said undocumented workers “will not be in this bill,” he appears to have missed one point: It may require them to buy their own coverage.

That’s the conclusion of the Congressional Research Service, which issued a report on the topic this week. According to the CRS, noncitizens who can be considered “resident aliens” under U.S. tax law would have to buy insurance — and unlike immigration laws, the tax code doesn’t distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants.

That last part makes sense to me. After all, we’re already spending millions unnecessarily because of uninsured people — legal and illegal, foreign and native-born — are getting free care at emergency rooms, and the cost is passed on to the rest of us.

In fact, the idea of making health insurance mandatory — like auto insurance in SC — is one of the things I like best about what the president had to say last night (and probably what my libertarian friends like least). The bigger the pool the smaller the risk for each individual, and pretty much everybody will need health care sometime, so it makes no sense to let anyone opt out.

One question I don’t have the answer to — how the Cardin bill relates to what the president was pitching. I’m not sure about the correlation, although I can tell you that I got to the CNN fact-check from a page about the Wilson outburst. Can anyone help me on that?

And does anyone have any other reliable fact-checking sites to pass on?

13 thoughts on “Pants on Fire: Who’s lying and who’s not on health care and illegal immigrants

  1. Lee Muller

    There is no Obama Plan.
    He offered nothing in writing.

    Every time he speaks, he says something different.

    The only proposals that count are the actual House and Senate that are being pushed by the Democrats, which contain no prohibitions against providing US taxpayer-funded medical care to illegal aliens.

    Democrats in the House and Senate have, on every occasion, voted down amendments to keep illegals off these proposed plans. James Clyburn led the fight to strip these safeguards against illegals from committee amendments offered by moderate Democrats.

    Democrats have refused to stop the free medical care currently being provided to illegal aliens. Over 75 percent of babies born in California are to illegal mothers, who sneak in here and run to the hospitals for free care.

  2. Lee Muller

    President Obama Misleads Public on Health Care for Illegal Aliens
    Thu Sep 10, 2009 4:11pm EDT

    President Obama’s assertion that illegal alien would not be covered under AAHCA is directly contradicted by an August 25 report, Treatment of Noncitizens in H.R. 3200, issued by the Congressional Research Service. The
    nonpartisan research arm of Congress concluded, “H.R. 3200 does not contain any restrictions on noncitizens – whether legally or illegal present, or inthe United States temporarily or permanently – participating in the [Health Insurance] Exchange.”

    Once in the Exchange, participants are free to enroll in the government run health insurance program. This public option, established under H.R. 3200,
    would be heavily or entirely subsidized by the American taxpayers. While illegal aliens are barred from receiving “affordability credits” to help pay
    for private insurance, CRS noted the absence of any mechanism in the bill to verify citizenship or legal residency.

  3. kbfenner

    It depends on what you mean by “covers.” If you mean, “gives free health care,” the bill does not. If you mean,”deals with in some way” it does insofar as it deals with resident aliens.
    I know it sounds like weasel words to some, but it really makes a big difference how you define your terms.

  4. Lee Muller

    The easy way to solve it is legislation denying any federal, state or local tax (or deficit) money to be spent on illegal aliens, and for any of them who show up for freebies to to arrested and deported.

  5. Randy E

    Illegal immigrants will ALWAYS have access to health care. This is so for moral and for societal reasons.

    What sense does it make to invade Iraq simply to get rid of a bad man who did bad things to people while we let people suffer all sorts maladies in our own borders.

    Also, if we don’t address illness, it will spread. 2,000 students in Wash St already have the N1H1 flu just two weeks into the fall semester.

    It’s intellectually dishonest for republicans to pretend that we can withhold health care to people. This is a chance to score political points by demogoguing and picking on people of color. It’s shameless.

  6. doug_ross


    Are you blaming illegal immigrants for the flu outbreak?

    As long as we provide incentives and little punishment, the illegal immigrants will continue to cross the border.

    I’ve been in Dallas for the past month. You have no idea what impact the illegal immigrant problem is where you are at. This morning on the radio, one caller after another spoke of having what are euphemistically called “day laborers” hop into their trucks at stop lights, at convenience stores, etc. The number of illegals has reached the point here where it has grown beyond enforcement. We cannot keep taking on people who enter at the lowest level of our society where the lack of education, English language skills, and an attitude that illegal activity justifies their desire to escape their own country. All we end up with is lowering our own standard of living.

    It’s not about race, it’s about laws. Once you cross the border illegally, you deserve nothing in return. Zero.

  7. doug_ross

    And nothing prevents you from doing everything within your means to provide money for the poor. This is also something the churches could do.

    But it’s easier for liberals to say “Hey, let’s take money from other Americans and give it to illegals so I can feel better about myself”

    Liberalism means never having to say “I’ll do it”

  8. Lee Muller

    No one has a right to health care unless they pay for it.

    To say someone has a right to some material goods or services without earning that right, is to obligate someone else to be their provider, their slave.

    If we sterilized every illegal alien captured in America, they would be fleeing back to the corrupt squalor of Mexico.

  9. Randy E

    Yes Doug let’s ignore sick illegals. They do cross paths with American citizens. I’d rather they do so without having a contagious disease left untreated.

    I blamed the flu on illegal aliens? That’s a sad interpretation of my post.

    I want to take money from other Americans? The hefty taxes I pay in Connecticut doesn’t qualify me as a tax payer?

    Doug, we hardly live in a bubble. We can ignore the problems in society and let them get worse for our kids or we can be proactive. And yes, it’s a moral imperative as well.

  10. Karen McLeod

    We seem to be headed in a downhill spiral of increasing polarization and vituperation. If we don’t stop this, and return to civil, reasoned debate and discussion, we’re going to keep sliding until we’re like 3rd world countries where elections are decided by who has the most AK-47’s and elections are exercises in stuffing the ballot box. And if we get to that point, believe me, we will be a third world country.

  11. Lee Muller

    Karen, you engage in name-calling in a polite way, but it is still name-calling. Try being more direct an honest about what you want. See if you can say it in public, or if the words stick in your mouth.

    * Do you want America to be overrun with illegal aliens?

    * Do you want to continue this reckless deficit spending which has destroyed our economy?

    * Do want to stop pursuing or terrorist enemies, and just hope they kill someone else, and not you?

    * Do you want a society where only 16% of Americans actually pay taxes, where the political leadership panders to the indolent by telling them they have “a right” to be idle and dependent?

  12. Lee Muller

    By the way, our last election was stolen by illegal voters, registered by ACORN, using federal tax money, and by tens of millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions from Muslim countries to the Obama campaign.


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