Hearing Addresses Effects of Immigration on Health Care
The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a field hearing on Tuesday in Georgia to discuss the impact of illegal immigration on the state's Medicaid program and health care delivery system, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The hearing is one of about twenty being held by House Republicans across the U.S. to win support for their immigration bill, which focuses on border security.
The Senate passed a bill that would create a guest worker program and a route to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants. The two chambers have not yet reached a compromise over the issue, and immigration legislation has been at a standstill for months.
Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) chaired the Georgia hearing and served as a panel member along with Reps. Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.) and Hilda Solis (D-Calif.). At the hearing, testimony was given by nine witnesses -- including Georgia state lawmakers, government specialists on Medicaid, doctors and hospital administrators.
Norwood said, "Illegal immigrants are getting onto our social system, and it is busting the bank now." Deal said that it was fair to require Medicaid beneficiaries to prove their citizenship, a rule that went into effect this year.
Since the new requirement took effect, about 40,000 of the 1.3 million enrolled in Georgia's Medicaid withdrew from the program.
Abel Ortiz, an HHS policy advisor, said the drop is "strong evidence of fraud and abuse."
Solis said, "The real problem with our health system is not immigrants but the fact that the system is broken" (Pickel, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/16).
Congressional Research Service immigration specialist Alison Siskin said studies have been unclear about immigration's impact on health care. "The studies are all over the place," she said, adding, "There are not studies that have shown rampant abuse."
Norwood told Siskin that he was "disappointed" with her testimony and that he intends to complain to her supervisors at CRS, according to the AP/Macon Telegraph (AP/Macon Telegraph, 8/15).