January 16, 2019

Cassidy, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Protect Medicaid, Prevent Liberal States from Forcing Americans to Subsidize Free Health Care for Illegal Immigrants

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), John Barrasso (R-WY), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), David Perdue (R-GA), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced the Protect Medicaid Act (S. 131), legislation to ensure the long-term integrity of Medicaid by preventing liberal states like California from forcing American citizens in other states to subsidize state programs that expand Medicaid benefits to illegal immigrants.

Federal law already bars illegal immigrants from receiving Medicaid, but states like California get around federal law by using state funds to extend Medicaid benefits to illegal immigrants. Of course, this would be less financially feasible if the state did not already receive millions of dollars from the federal government.

California already discourages doctors from seeing new Medicaid patients by reimbursing them at the third lowest rate in the nation. This means Medicaid patients have a harder time getting appointments and receiving care.

Cassidy’s legislation prohibits federal money from being spent on administering state Medicaid benefits paid for by American citizens to noncitizens who break the law. If a state chooses to give Medicaid benefits to illegal residents, the bill ensures that state does so entirely on its own dime, without any costs to taxpayers in other states.

“Governor Newsom’s plan is a giant magnet for more illegal immigration, and it will hurt California citizens who depend on Medicaid.,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Simple math says you can’t add the entire population of another country to Medicaid and still take care of the American citizens who need it. In addition, the plan is unfair to vulnerable Americans and it’s not fair to middle-class families paying taxes—taking care of them should be our priority. Compassion that cannot be sustained is not compassion.”

“Medicaid is an important program for millions of patients,” said Sen. Barrasso. “Congress must focus on improving care for Americans in need. Taxpayers need to know that their hard-earned money is not expanding health care for illegal immigrants.”

“Tennesseans and the American people do not want their tax dollars subsidizing Medicaid for illegal immigrants,” said Senator Blackburn. “At a time when Medicaid is being stretched to the breaking point, the last thing we need are liberal states like California circumventing federal law to give those dollars to illegals at the expense of vulnerable American citizens.”  

“The law is the law, and this bill would stop states from circumventing the law to offer Medicaid benefits to illegal immigrants,” said Senator Hyde-Smith.  “This is a matter of fairness to states, like Mississippi, that follow the law and dedicate Medicaid resources to their citizens.”

“Safety nets like Medicaid should exist to serve only Americans,” Senator Inhofe said. “States like California should not be allowed to expand federal welfare benefits to illegal immigrants when the programs are expressly provided for citizens. I am proud to join Sen. Cassidy on this legislation.” 

“Governor Newsom’s proposal to reward illegal aliens with Medicaid benefits is nothing more than political grandstanding,” said Senator Perdue. “This is absolutely outrageous and only underscores the fact that California continues to put politics over the safety and security of American citizens. Ultimately, this kind of abuse of entitlement programs contributes to our $21 trillion debt crisis. We will not stand idly by and watch California and other sanctuary states skirt federal law to dole out taxpayer-funded benefits to illegal aliens.”

“American taxpayers should not be responsible for providing health care to those who are in our country illegally,” Senator Wicker said. “If states like New York or California want to provide their own funds to support unauthorized immigrants, they should shoulder the full administrative cost of providing these services.”

The Protect Medicaid Act also requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) to review and report on:

  • How states that provide Medicaid services to illegal immigrants keep federal and state dollars separate.
  • Whether states providing health benefits to illegal immigrants use gimmicks that rip off the federal government, like provider taxes and intergovernmental transfers, to launder federal dollars to offset the cost of providing benefits to this population.
  • Whether people in the country illegally benefit from covered outpatient drugs purchased under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program and the 340B program, and whether this impacts the prices American citizens pay.