SCHIP Legislation Contains Loopholes That Would Allow Undocumented Immigrants To Enroll

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State Children's Health InsuranceProgram

Revised legislation thatwould reauthorize and expand SCHIP contains a loophole that undocumentedimmigrants and ineligible documented immigrants could exploit to enroll in theprogram, according to a Heritage Foundation analysis, the Washington Times reports. Robert Rector, a seniorresearch fellow at the conservative foundation and author of the analysis, saidthat the SCHIP bill would require applicants to provide only a valid SocialSecurity number, rather than proof of citizenship.

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According to Rector, that requirement would undo the 1996 welfare policy thatrestricted documented immigrants from receiving public benefits until they havebeen in the U.S.for at least five years. He said, "If you're illegal, you're going to haveto come up with a valid but bogus Social Security number. If you're a legalpermanent resident, you have a Social Security number, it's just a piece ofcake for you to walk in," adding, "You couldn't be clearer in theirsaying, 'We really don't care about that five-year time period." Rectorsaid that undocumented immigrants who have stolen valid Social Security numbersalso could enroll in the program.

Democrats have said there is no evidence that undocumented immigrants areabusing the program, and a Government Accountability Office report released earlier this year foundthat new proof-of-citizenship rules for Medicaid actually prevent eligibleresidents from enrolling in the program. Supporters of the SCHIP bill saidthere is nothing in the measure that would affect immigrants' access to theprogram. Democratic leaders on Friday said they would send the bill toPresident Bush, who vetoed an earlier version of the measure. House MajorityLeader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said, "This legislation, of course, passed theHouse and Senate with broad bipartisan support, and we urge the president tosign it into law," adding, "We are sending this legislation to thepresident now because of concerns about a pocket veto if we wait" (Dinan, WashingtonTimes, 12/3).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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