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Read the Bill: Illegal Immigrants Are NOT Covered

September 9, 2009 - by Conor Kenny

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) angrily shouted “you lie!” in response to President Obama’s statement during his Wednesday address to Congress that claims of illegal immigrants being covered by the proposed health care reforms were “false.”

Politico ID’d the representative and posted the video, where you can hear the shout at around the 1:20 mark:

This claim of coverage for illegal immigrants has been repeated in viral emails and even in a press release by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), among other places. One viral email proved its case by citing:

Pg 50 Section 152 in HC bill – HC will be provided to ALL non US citizens, illegal or otherwise.

However, as we have blogged before, the claim is easily debunked by simply reading the bill, which you can do, right here, right now. Here’s Section 152:


(a) In General- Except as otherwise explicitly permitted by this Act and by subsequent regulations consistent with this Act, all health care and related services (including insurance coverage and public health activities) covered by this Act shall be provided without regard to personal characteristics extraneous to the provision of high quality health care or related services.

Read it yourself: Section 152 in H.R. 3200, the official bill text. >>

Now, one could see how “personal characteristics” could be interpreted as covering one’s immigration status… unless you kept reading to Section 246:


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

Read it yourself: Section 246 in H.R. 3200, the official bill text. >>

The “subtitle” referred to here is Subtitle C, “Individual Affordability Credits,” which provides funds to low-income people to purchase private health insurance, the only section of the bill that could be construed as providing insurance to illegal immigrants.

Another comment I’ve seen around the web is that until we see specific language stating how the government is going to check IDs and immigration status, any such prohibition is worthless. Well, here’s a little civics lesson: Congress makes laws that are often broad and then directs the Executive Branch to issue regulations carrying out the legislation. Which is exactly what you’d know if you read the second paragraph in the infamous Section 152:

(b) Implementation- To implement the requirement set forth in subsection (a), the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall, not later than 18 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, promulgate such regulations as are necessary or appropriate to insure that all health care and related services (including insurance coverage and public health activities) covered by this Act are provided (whether directly or through contractual, licensing, or other arrangements) without regard to personal characteristics extraneous to the provision of high quality health care or related services.

Read it yourself: Section 152 in H.R. 3200, the official bill text. >>

So, there it is, in the actual bill text, printed in black and white. and several others have also debunked this rumor.

The Sunlight Foundation has been urging members of Congress to post bills online for 72 hours so they and everyone else can get a chance to read the bill so they can, you know, understand it and make informed comments before voting. We’ve done part of the work here by posting the bill for everyone to read, but while you can lead a representative to water, you cannot make him drink.

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Displaying 1-30 of 66 total comments.

  • parker2000 09/09/2009 7:45pm

    Shame on you Sir,
    You have now joined an elite group, all you have to do now is throw your shoe at The President of our United States.

  • Comm_reply
    Conor_Kenny 09/09/2009 8:36pm

    I’m sorry, I’m not very clear on your comment. Are you saying that I am critical of the president? My intent was neither to attack nor defend him, it was only to point out that this particular criticism of the bill was not founded in reality.

  • Comm_reply
    abaratar 09/09/2009 9:48pm

    pssst… it apears he was commenting to the guy that yelled durring the speach, feel free to delete this comment if you delete yours:)

    welcome to opencongress

  • Anonymous 09/09/2009 8:11pm

    Ridiculous. What does “in this subtitle” do to the legal implications?

    How about, "Under no circumstances will ANY benefits be allowed to be delivered to any other than lawful, established citizens of the United States. Citizenship will be verified as a condition of receiving benefits. The burden of proof will reside with the applicant, with denial as the default. Any case where benefits are alleged by anyone to have been given to other than a US Citizen will be investigated by X Dept. If true, the officials who failed to properly make this assessment will be disciplined with a warning on first offense, a $250 fine on second offense, and termination on 3rd offense. Managers whose staff accumulate more than 30 offenses will be terminated.

    Applicants found to be non-U.S. Citizens will be immediately reported (and detained if in the presence of government officials) to ICE for deportation.

    This nebulous mush you cite is deliberately so and will NOT do what you claim.

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 09/10/2009 5:33am

    What a ridiculous comment. How would this affect foreign nationals with legitimate visas visiting from countries with reciprocal health care arrangements.

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 09/11/2009 2:15am

    The are here LEGALLY with Visas. Therefore they would be covered in the U.S.

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 09/10/2009 12:54pm

    Right, because we all carry our passports with us at all times. I thought you Republicans Libertarians were anti-government-issued-ID-card-which-must-be-presented-upon-demand?

    Oh, right, that only applies to polling places…

  • abaratar 09/09/2009 8:26pm
    (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)—

    101(a)(15)(V)(ii)(I) an immigrant visa is not immediately available to the alien because of a waiting list of applicants for visas under section 203(a)(2)(A); or

    101(a)(15)(V)(ii)(II) the alien’s application for an immigrant visa, or the alien’s application for adjustment of status under section 245, pursuant to the approval of such petition, remains pending.

    And section T makes exceptions for prostitutes and illegals involved in crimes and trafficking (and their families).

    It most definitely provides affordability credits for non citizens.
  • Anonymous 09/10/2009 3:00am
    Link Reply
    + -1


    Until such Healthcare for illegal aliens is explicitly denied as a part of the legislation, that healthcare coverage will be allowed. Kinda like if abortions are not explicitly disallowed, they will be allowed.

    The President is guilty of, at the very least, deception, and you, sir, are contributing to his deception. This president is depending on his opponents being too “gentlemanly” to publicly call him on his deceptions. I applaud Joe Wilson. I have been pushing the representatives from the state of Tennessee to be just as vocal. The people are makning their objections known. It is time that our representatives make these objections known, publicly.

    It is my opinion that you owe Joe Wilson an apology.

  • Comm_reply
    Runaway1956 09/12/2009 12:28pm

    “This president is depending on his opponents being too "gentlemanly""

    No way. Obama got his political experience in Chicago – the land where senator’s seats are sold to the highest bidder. He knows there are no gentlemen in Washington. Obama didn’t even look excited or shocked when the redneck from S. Carolina called him a liar. Look at the video again – it’s almost a look of boredom. “Again? What’s with that trailer trash?”

    Don’t tell us about gentlemanly behaviour – unless you’re referring to the common practice of making all the real deals behind closed doors so that Joe Sixpack can’t see what’s going on.

    Joe Wilson owes America an apology, in addition to the apology that he owes congress.

  • Anonymous 09/10/2009 3:58am
    Link Reply
    + -1

    Obama did lie. They stripped all enforcement from the bill. On paper it appears they won’t, but in reality there is no way of checking if they are illegal.

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 09/10/2009 6:46am

    Blue Said:
    To the cowardly anonymous backers of Joe Wilson who believe Joe Wilson is owed an apology, “If a Democrat had yelled at Bush during his many LIES he told in those same chambers, you’d say the heckler was a traitor for disrespecting the office of the President at a time when our country is at war, etc.etc.”

    Apparently when your “gentelemanly” party ran the congress it was much more civil to the office of the President.

    So, we are now at the stage in our American history when elected senators and congressmen can jump up and yell “You Lie” to their “COMMANDER In CHIEF” and offer a trite apology afterwords.

    If you have irrefutable evidence that shows the president lied, show it! Instead of yelling and screaming just so you can disrupt ACTUAL learning and discourse.

    Blue Eagle

  • Comm_reply
    oderintdummetuant 09/10/2009 2:21pm

    What in God’s name did anyone learn from that speech? And discourse means written or spoken debate or a formal discussion or debate. That 48 minute waste of broadcasting power was a pep talk. Nothing was explained, nothing was expounded on. Just more of the same ole’ rhetoric being spouted as factual.

    I agree it was inappropriate to comment in such a manner but don’t talk about “if blah blah blah happened when Bush was in office” as a matter of reality it is an impossibility to state what would have happened. You can say it might have happened or probably would have happened .

  • Anonymous 09/10/2009 3:59am

    Go Joe!

  • Anonymous 09/10/2009 5:14am
    Link Reply
    + -1

    ObamaCare has been drafted so as not to require citizenship verification that is currently required for Medicaid under the status quo. So you see, he did lie.

    Way to go Joe !

  • jraiffie 09/10/2009 5:24am
    Link Reply
    + -1


  • Comm_reply
    Runaway1956 09/12/2009 12:33pm

    Actually, I think that “we the people” will make it happen, despite your rhetoric. Oh yeah – I think the government is quietly moving ahead with e-verify. Give me a card, and give me the same sort of insurance that I’ve been paying on for years – for my congress critters. I deserve it, thank you very much.

    Get over your fear. Demoncrats are no worse than you neocons…..

  • sunbruz8 09/10/2009 5:30am

    Fantastic post, Connor. Thanks for pointing out what’s really going on with this provision. I’m not sure where all of this hatred is coming from – and here’s some news for all of the haters: illegal immigrants already get emergency care, if it’s life-threatening, because of Bush’s Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003. That bill had plenty of support by Rs. Why is there now so much outcry? Just another foothold for critics – they’ll clearly say anything to try to derail Obama’s health care plan, and will do so without regard to truth.

  • CongressCritter 09/10/2009 5:43am

    Sunbruz8 – Disagreeing with your ideas isn’t hating you or anybody else – it’s called having a debate, not hate.

    Rep. Wilson was referring to the fact that while the Healthcare bill excludes illegal participation it doesn’t provide for a mechanism to check the legality status of those seeking the care. The effect will be that we, Americans will be paying for Mexican National healthcare – that isn’t fair and isn’t change that is supportable.

    Just my ever humble opinion and I don’t hate you – I don’t even know you – OK ?

  • Comm_reply
    sunbruz8 09/10/2009 7:30am

    Critter – I didn’t say that the critics hated ME – I was actually referring to all the intensely angry comments on this page (and generally across America) about the idea that illegal immigrants could possibly receive health care. And as someone else posts below, not passing this legislation will not solve the problem. As far as enforcement of the provision in the bill goes, it would likely be done by regulation anyway. Bills typically do not get into detail about how to implement provisions – that comes later. It could be as simple as “Hi. Welcome to the doctor’s office. Can I see your ID?” If they don’t have one, no treatment! (Again, emergency treatment is different.)

  • Anonymous 09/10/2009 5:50am

    Sun, nice supposition, there. Bush’s Prescription Drug Act did NOT have a lot of support from Republicans/Conservatives – in fact, it was a slap in the face to conservatives.

    Yes, illegals receive free emergency health care now, and they’ll continue to receive free emergency health care if this atrocious bill passes.

    Also, the hatred? You don’t know where it’s coming from? How about the fact that we, the people, are losing power in the governance of this nation, and that our rights (constitutionally and god-given) are being trampled upon, on a daily basis? How about the fact that millions of people in this country are being deliberately/actively ignored by the President and his Washington cronies in the House and Senate? That’s where the anger (not hatred) is coming from.

    There’s outcry, because we don’t want to turn into another, Neo-Eurotrash country, where citizens come second to government… we like our country the way it is – free, capitalist, and a democratic republic.

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 09/10/2009 7:04am

    So if illegals “receive free emergency healthcare now, and they’ll continue to receive free emergency health car if this atrocious bill passes” NOT passing it will put an end to it????

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 09/10/2009 7:10am

    My point is that they won’t be able to stop it, because of the ethics associated with hospitals/doctors. If someone is dying from a gunshot wound and they can’t find an ID, they’re going to mend his wound and save his life. It’s an ethical decision that they abide by.

    Now, if this turns into a Nazi regime, perhaps they’ll get rid of such ethics/laws altogether and forcefully prevent Surgeons suturing a wound.

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 09/10/2009 7:13am

    This illegal immigrant emergency care is a non-issue, since it cannot be fixed. What CAN be fixed is the issue with E-Verify and preventing the illegal immigration of immigrants. That’s another issue that the Bush administration (and current) failed or will fail to attack.

  • Comm_reply
    sunbruz8 09/10/2009 7:34am

    Actually, EVerify is on track to become law this month (HR 2892), at least for Federal Contractors, and there’s legislation in Congress that would extend it to all employers (SAVE Act of 2009 – HR 3308 and S 1505).

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 09/10/2009 7:39am

    This is true – though very recent, as of two days ago. It’s still a fight to extend it to all employers, but I think that’ll probably happen by 2010.

  • Comm_reply
    sunbruz8 09/10/2009 7:59am

    You’re right about the conservative support – my mistake.

    However, I fail to understand your explanation of “the hatred” – what power do the people have in the governance of the nation other than the election of officials to represent us? I mean, seriously, go take a poli-sci course – that’s how it works! It just so happens that people you disagree with are in the majority right now. They aren’t trying to rip power from you, “trample” you, or ignore you. They’re listening to the people who elected them. While I understand that many people are opposed to this bill, there are obviously many people who are in favor of it. To say that the legislative system we have in place makes us a “Neo-Eurotrash country” is like throwing a temper-tantrum because you’re not getting your way.

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 09/10/2009 10:13am

    You don’t seem to get it. They’re supposed to be representative of the people – the people of this nation. You don’t need to take a biased poli-sci class, to understand how the government works, and to understand the fundamental values that have been in-place since the structuring of the government by our founding fathers. Read the constitution, read the declaration of independence, realize what the three branches of government are and what their uses are, and understand that this is a Democratic Republic based on the principle that it’s run by the people, for the people and of the people.

    There’s a reason why Obama’s polls are slipping as fast as they are… because he’s got an abrasive and radical agenda, and the majority of Americans understand this.

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 09/10/2009 10:14am


    He’s hiring 40 czars (who we can’t/don’t vote for – many of which have communist/socialist backgrounds and radical ideologies), he has placed the responsibility of the census under the White House, he’s lied to our faces/television screens on a continuous basis; he and the representatives & senators in office are name-calling constituents, lying to our faces/television screens, denying townhalls, ignoring the complaints/arguments/debates of constituents, etc.

    This is no longer a government of, by and for the people… the constituents no longer have a voice.

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 09/18/2009 10:17am

    Now…have you exercised your freedom to actually investigate the backgrounds of these czars or did someone just tell you that and you believed them? I think it would really help prove your point if you could show factual information that supports your claims that Obama is lying and that the czars are communists. And because you are a free American, you can actually look things up for yourself. So tell me…have you exercised your right to see something with your own two eyes before you believe it?

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