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Aderholt Opposes $35 Billion Expansion of Government Health Insurance: SCHIP Bill Includes $6.5 Billion Giveaway For Illegal Immigrants

September 26, 2007
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-4) late last night voted against a bill amounting to a $35 billion increase in government health insurance as well as $6.5 billion in Medicaid benefits to illegal immigrants. Originally intended to provide health care coverage to low-income children, H.R. 976, State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) Reauthorization Act of 2007, instead became a tax and spend giveaway that would benefit liberal interests and non-U.S. citizens.

“Most Americans would support a bill that provides health insurance to needy, low-income children. I’m one of them. In 1997, I joined my Republican colleagues in doing just that by creating SCHIP,” said Congressman Aderholt. “Since that time, thousands of children in the state of Alabama have received medical care that otherwise would not have been possible. In fact, Alabama has gone above and beyond existing federal requirements by providing mental and dental health coverage to children enrolled in the current program.”

Congressman Aderholt has joined his Republican colleagues in sponsoring legislation, the SCHIP Extension Act of 2007 (H.R. 3584) that reauthorizes and fully funds the existing SCHIP for an additional 18 months. To date no action has been taken on this bill.

In general, Congressman Aderholt has three concerns with H.R. 976 leading to his opposition of the bill: it is a $35 billion expansion of government health care that makes families earning up to $63,000 or more a year eligible for coverage; it unfairly targets a single group of Americans to pay higher taxes to fund the bill; and, it includes $6.5 billion in health care benefits for illegal immigrants.

As agreed to by Democratic members of the House and Senate, H.R. 976 overturns the existing federal requirement that States document the citizenship status and identity of individuals applying for public assistance under the Medicaid program. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates federal taxpayers will be forced to spend an additional $3.7 billion over the next ten years. When the required State-level spending is added, this results in a total $6.5 billion being spent on individuals who wouldn’t otherwise be qualified to receive these benefits.

Congressman Aderholt continued, “When given an opportunity to continue this successful program, the liberal leadership in Congress passed. Instead they’ve chosen to substitute a good program with one that raises taxes and provides $6.5 billion in benefits to illegal immigrants. What happened to providing health care coverage to needy children?”

H.R. 976 raised concerns that it would defraud the American taxpayer out of billions of dollars by allowing States to use Social Security Numbers in the place of documents that actually prove citizenship status and identity. In response to this ridiculous provision, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) had the following response: “A Social Security card (or having a valid SSN) does not denote citizenship, and is not useful for determining citizenship status . . . Social Security cards issued to noncitizens who are residing permanently in the United States are identical to those issued to U.S. citizens. In addition, aliens who are in the United States temporarily are also eligible for valid SSNs.” (CRS Memorandum, “The Usefulness of Social Security Cards for Determining U.S. Citizenship”)

Additionally, the bill allows states to raise eligibility limits to families at 300% of the Federal poverty level (currently $21,000/year) meaning that families making up to $63,000 would be eligible for government subsidized health care. To pay for this expansion of government healthcare the bill unfairly targets a single group of Americans and raises cigarette taxes by 61 cents per pack.

“While I don’t endorse smoking, smokers are being unfairly targeted as the sole revenue source to pay for this massive expansion of government healthcare. On top of that, we’re saying that families making $63,000 a year or more should be eligible for government healthcare for their children. That never has been the intent of SCHIP and shouldn’t be now,” stated Aderholt.

President Bush has unequivocally stated his opposition to this legislation as drafted and said that he will veto this bill as soon as it reaches his desk.

“Big spenders and those who would support socialized medicine in Congress have known this fact for some time and have chosen to play politics and pass legislation with no future just days before SCHIP expires. I urge those responsible to quit playing political chicken and pass a clean reauthorization of this vital and necessary program,” concluded Aderholt.