Five years ago this month, President Barack Obama delivered a rare speech to Congress about health care reform in which he took on the “bogus claim” that “our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants.”
“This, too, is false. The reforms — the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally,” he said.
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) infamously interrupted and yelled, “You lie!” The outburst sparked a firestorm and prompted a House vote to admonish him. Wilson called the White House to apologize, and said in a statement his flare-up was “inappropriate and regrettable.”
It turns out the Obama administration is enforcing that provision of Obamacare. On Monday it announced that 115,000 people will be thrown off their insurance plans as of Sept. 30 because they didn’t respond to the government’s requests to verify their U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status.
CMS had sent notices to individuals who didn’t provide complete or proper immigration documentation by the end of May. That number fell significantly after many provided adequate responses, the administration said.
The idea of using federal dollars to insure undocumented immigrants was never seriously under consideration, and was prohibited by Obamacare legislation. Still, the claim took on a life of its own during the contentious debate as many conservatives didn’t believe the restriction would apply in practice.
A Wilson spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Obama’s next sentence on that day in 2009, however, has proven to be more questionable. “And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up — under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place,” he said. A report on Monday by the Government Accountability Office raised serious questions about whether federal subsidies are being used to buy insurance plans that cover abortion, as opposed to charging customers separately for the procedure. The Obama administration acknowledged that “that additional clarification may be needed” on that matter.