During Barack Obama’s speech tonight, Obama said it was untrue that “the reforms I am proposing” cover illegal aliens. Someone in the audience, reportedly South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson, yelled out “liar.”
Now this isn’t the British parliament, so I don’t agree with shouting out. Just who is lying, though, depends upon which plan is being used to determine if illegal aliens are covered.
Technically, Obama was correct that his plan does not cover illegal aliens because Obama has no plan that has been released, only concepts. So if Obama says his plan doesn’t cover illegals, then by definition it does not cover illegals — at least until we see the language in his plan. Similarly, the Senate HELP Committee bill defines an “eligible individual” in numerous places throughout the bill to include only citizens and legal residents (including for the public option, at page 111 of the bill).
So using the two measures, the non-existent Obama bill and the draft Senate HELP Committee bill which was not a full Senate proposal, Obama was correct.
But if the standard is the full House Bill, HR3200, then it appears that Obama was incorrect. There is nothing in HR3200 that excludes illegal aliens from the various coverage provisions (with a few limited exceptions). The Congressional Research Service agrees with this assessment (full report embedded below). For example, with regard to health care exchanges, the CRS found:
H.R. 3200 does not contain any restrictions on noncitzens—whether legally or illegally present, or in the United States temporarily or permanently—participating in the Exchange.
Since the Obama administration wanted a full House vote passing HR3200 prior to the August recess, Obama was okay with a bill that included illegal aliens.
Was Obama a “liar” meaning that he had knowledge of the falsehood of the statement he made at the time he made it? Hard to say. Maybe Obama was playing word games like Bill Clinton did as to the definition of “is.” Or maybe Obama simply was mistaken as was George Bush on WMDs in Iraq.
UPDATE: One of the talking points I have seen in numerous comments posted around the blogosphere is that Obama was correct because Section 246 of the House Bill excludes illegals from receiving Individual Affordability Credits. That is true, and one of the few exceptions under the Bill. But it is the exception which proves the rule. As the CRS found, illegal aliens can participate in most of the critical aspects of the government health system including the health care exchanges.
Added: It also would be interesting to see how long the exclusion of illegal aliens from getting the credits lasted, since as the CRS notes, illegal aliens are subject to the health care mandate; one can anticipate the argument that if the House Bill requires illegals to have qualified health insurance, some accomodation needs to be made for those who cannot afford it.
There already are calls in reaction to Obama’s speech to include illegal aliens fully in the health care coverage, credits and all:
So, tax dollars are already being spent on care for uninsured and undocumented immigrants. And hospital resources are being strained since the losses aren’t fully accounted for, which can have an effect on the quality of medical care provided to the general population. Regardless of the system in place, coverage of undocumented immigrants is a problem that’s going to need to be dealt with. Given that, shouldn’t we be working toward a solution that’s more transparent and just?
Shocking Lack of Respect