- The Washington Times - Friday, November 2, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Last week, Gov. Martin O’Malley unveiled a new health-care plan which will expand Medicaid in order to provide medical coverage for uninsured Maryland residents. It’s time for members of the General Assembly to start asking questions about the ways in which illegal aliens could obtain benefits through O’Malley-Care. Mr. O’Malley claims they cannot, pointing out that illegal aliens are ineligible for Medicaid. But that’s only part of the story. Given how illegal-alien-friendly the governor and most General Assembly Democrats have been on issues such as in-state tuition and driver’s licenses for illegals, a measure of skepticism is in order.

According to an analysis of Census data from Steven Camarota, research director for the Center for Immigration Studies, approximately 160,000 of Maryland’s 780,000 uninsured are illegals; slightly under 14 percent of all Marylanders are uninsured, while approximately 59 percent of illegal aliens lin Maryland lack health insurance. But thousands of illegal aliens in Maryland live in households in which at least one family member is receiving Medicaid, due largely to the fact that illegal-alien parents are ineligible, but their U.S.-born children are American citizens who qualify. Mr. Camarota estimates that there are “possibly” 44,000 U.S.-born children of illegals living in Maryland, 16,000 of whom are receiving Medicaid. Put another way, this means that thousands of illegal-alien parents in Maryland are currently having part of their family health-insurance costs paid by taxpayers — a number that is certain to increase if the O’Malley plan is enacted into law.

Another way in which illegal aliens could use O’Malley-Care to obtain health insurance is through identity fraud, in particular the use of stolen Social Security numbers. After the U.S. Senate in August passed its version of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) — a national expansion of Medicaid — Rep. Jim McCrery of Louisiana, ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, sent a letter to Social Security Administration (SSA) Commissioner Michael Astrue asking a series of detailed questions about whether the SCHIP bill would make it easier for illegal aliens to qualify for government-subsidized health care. (Mr. O’Malley, a strong backer of SCHIP, is suing the Bush administration in federal court for failing to let Maryland expand the program more rapidly.) These questions, according to Mr. Camarota of CIS, are the very kinds of questions that members of the Maryland General Assembly need to ask Mr. O’Malley and members of his administration in order to determine whether or not illegal aliens will be able to use identity fraud to obtain benefits under the governor’s health plan.

For example, Mr. McCrery asked whether “the name and Social Security number verification process” in the bill could be used to verify “whether someone is a naturalized citizen.” It would not, Mr. Astrue replied, because the Social Security number verification process only indicates whether the information matches the Social Security Administration’s records (regardless of whether the information contained in them is true). Would the name and Social Security number verification system contained in the SCHIP bill “verify that the person submitting the name and Social Security number is who they say they are?” Mr. McCrery asked. “No,” replied SSA. Would the name and Social Security Number verification system “prevent an individual who has illegally overstayed a work visa permit from qualifying from Medicaid or SCHIP?” It would not. (More information about illegal aliens’ ability to fraudulently obtain Medicaid is available at www.republicans.waysandmeans.gov.) ,

It is time for the Maryland General Assembly to begin asking serious questions about what safeguards the O’Malley administration would institute to prevent illegals from benefiting from the governor’s health plan.

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