WASHINGTON The Subcommittee on Health Care and Financial Services held a hearing today titled Why Expanding Medicaid to DACA Recipients Will Exacerbate the Border Crisis to examine how the Biden Administrations Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. Services’ (CMS) proposed rule to expand taxpayer-funded federal health care benefits to illegal immigrants who qualify under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will lead to higher health care costs and lower benefits for millions of Americans. At the hearing, subcommittee members asked Dr. Ellen Montz, deputy administrator and director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at CMS, questions to bring transparency to these rules and understand how they could make the crisis worse on our border.
- The Biden administration and CMS are deliberately incentivizing further illegal immigration by proposing to expand Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) market eligibility to DACA recipients.
- Under President Biden, illegal border crossings have reached record levels. In fiscal 2022, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported 2.76 million illegal border crossings, exceeding the previous year’s record by more than one million.
- The Biden administration’s disastrous policies along the southern border have already created the worst border crisis in American history. Providing the amnesty of increased federal benefits to illegal aliens only works to incentivize more illegal immigration.
- The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Biden administration are attempting to change the definition of who is legally present, but have not offered sufficient justification for overturning the previous rules.
- In October 2022, the 5th The United States Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the DACA program is illegal, but allowed the program to remain in effect for current recipients.
- The CMS proposed rule will increase the cost of health care in federal programs and could make it more difficult to access care.
- A study by the Federal for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) estimates that illegal immigration costs each American taxpayer $1,156 annually. The proposed rule adding about 129,000 federal DACA beneficiaries will increase costs by more than $100 million in Medicaid alone and potentially limit access to care for many Americans.
Dr. Montz with CMS could not respond to Rep. Glenn Grothmans (R-Wis.) requests whether the proposed rule will encourage more border crossings.
Rep. Grothman: Will this encourage people in the future to cross the border or to take their children across the border?
Dr. Montz: I can only speak to what the current law is and this proposed rule extends health coverage to DACA recipients and not other individuals.
Rep. Grothman: What do you think the annual cost of this program is?
Dr. Montz: Our proposed rule has estimates included in the regulatory impact analysis. We estimate that about 129,000 people will get coverage if this rule is finalized. That’s about 13,000 individuals in the 35 states who have opted into optional coverage in Medicaid and CHIP and just over 110,000 in market coverage.  For market coverage, we estimate it to be around 300 million [dollars] per year.
Rep. Burlison (R-Mo.) said the proposed rule runs counter to what President Obama’s CMS said in 2012, when it concluded that DACA recipients were not eligible for Medicaid benefits.
Rep. Burlison: When DACA was created under Obama, he explicitly barred DACA beneficiaries from Medicaid, CHIP, and ACA benefits. Why did he do it?
Dr. Montz: I believe the rule being referred to is the DHS memorandum and policy statement.
Rep. Burlison: I don’t know if that was an answer. You said they issued a memorandum.
Rep. Virginia Foxx (RN.C.) said CMS failed to offer justification for its attempt to alter the definition of who is legally present.
Rep. Foxx: So does the Department of Homeland Security think it can change the definition of who is legal and who is illegal in this country? Is that what you are saying?
Dr. Montz: I couldn’t speak for the Department of Homeland Security. What I can tell is that under this proposed rule, HHS is using its authority under the Affordable Care Act and CHIPRA 2009.
Rep. Foxx: Just like the administration thought it had the authority to repay student loans under a law it passed in 2011.
Subcommittee Chair Lisa McClain (R-Mich.) examined how, despite the substantial constitutional and legal issues surrounding the DACA program, CMS decided to abruptly reverse course and conclude that DACA recipients should be allowed to participate in Medicaid, CHIP, and ACA programs at U.S. taxpayer expense.
President McClain: Dr. Montz, are you aware that in 2022 the US Fifth Appeals Court said DACA was illegal?
Dr. Montz: I am aware that there is an injunction for any new DACA recipient.
Chairman McClain: Has CMS considered how external benefits to DACA recipients could stimulate future waves of illegal immigration? Did this enter your status or your decision?
Rep. Montz: DACA recipients have been here since 2007, so we didn’t believe there was any impact.
President McClain: Can you identify the section of the US code that gives CMS the authority to set US immigration policy?
Dr. Montz: HHS does not set immigration policy; however, we have the authority to establish the definition of legal presence in connection with HHS programs.
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TO KNOW MORE: McClain opens hearing on expanding health benefits to DACA recipients
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