Conrad Clarifies: No Federal Subsidies for Non-Citizens Under Health Care Bill

September 11, 2009 7:31 a.m.

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) told reporters today that while non-citizens won’t be barred, under Senate Finance Committee legislation from entering health insurance exchanges, the exchanges themselves will require all consumers to show proof of citizenship, in order to insure that undocumented residents don’t receive any federal subsidies.

“You can’t prevent someone from being able to purchase insurance,” Conrad said. “They would not get any government assistance…. What we’re trying to prevent is anybody who is here illegally from getting any federal benefit.”Other legislation, and previous versions of the Baucus proposal, required government officials to erect regulations to prevent non-citizens from receiving federal subsidies. Conservatives latched on to that lack of definition by charging that people in the country illegally would benefit from Democratic health care reform.

Though the new change makes explicit what the earlier drafts left implicit–and while the move may provide some political cover to Republicans, who are still recovering from the controversy over Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst during President Obama’s speech–it’s sure to raise the ire of liberals, and immigrant groups, and spark concerns that new reforms will be used to target undocumented immigrants.

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