The version of President Obama’s universal health care plan pending in the U.S. House specifically states that illegal aliens should not receive benefits, but one lawmaker believes the statement does not go far enough to stop illegals from claiming to be citizens so they can receive health benefits.

In an interview with CBS News, Katie Couric asked Obama if illegal aliens should be covered under the proposed health plan.

Obama replied, “no.”

“First of all, I’d like to create a situation where we’re dealing with illegal immigration, so that we don’t have illegal immigrants,” he said. “And we’ve got legal residents or citizens who are eligible for the plan. And I want a comprehensive immigration plan that creates a pathway to achieve that.”

However, he explained that he believes illegal alien children should be an exception to the policy.

“The one exception that I think has to be discussed is how are we treating children,” he continued. “Partly because if you’ve got children who may be here illegally but are still in playgrounds or at schools, and potentially are passing on illnesses and communicable diseases, that aren’t getting vaccinated, that I think is a situation where you may have to make an exception.”

Section 246 of the House health care plan, or HR 3200, states:

Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.

But Stuart Bybee, spokesman for Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., told WND restrictions on illegal alien enrollment are not clearly enforced under the House bill.

“Essentially, it’s just a very vague provision, and it really doesn’t have any enforcement capability to it,” Bybee said. “It just says if you go in and claim that you are a citizen, that’s good enough.”

He said Heller offered an amendment to HR 3200 during the House Ways and Means Committee markup that would have ensured that illegal aliens would not qualify for health care benefits under the bill.

Heller’s amendment would have required the federal government use the same database it currently uses to determine eligibility for welfare recipients to ensure illegal aliens do not enroll in the government health care plan. Applicants would have to show eligibility through the Income and Eligibility Verification System and the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements system.

“Under the affordability credits, they have to verify your income in order to make you eligible for the subsidy for the government-run program,” Bybee said. “It is simply one extra step just to insist on verification. It doesn’t require a new agency, It doesn’t require a new program. It’s stuff that’s already there and available, and it’s a step that should be taken to ensure fraud and abuse does not occur in the system.”

When Heller offered the amendment to H.R. 3200, he issued a statement saying Section 246 does not require the tools necessary to ensure illegal aliens don’t access taxpayer-funded health care benefits.

“This government-run health care proposal will kill jobs, hurt families, and result in massive federal spending our country cannot afford,” he said. “However, if the majority party insists on moving forward with government-run health care plan, Congress should do everything within its power to curb abuse. Requiring citizenship verification for enrollment would ensure only citizens and legal residents receive taxpayer funded health care.”

The House Ways and Means Committee rejected Heller amendment July 17 in a straight party-line vote.

Bybee said, “If the intention was to make sure that only citizens had access to this care, then the congressman’s amendment should have passed.”

Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, said in a statement, “At a time when the federal government is running trillion dollar deficits, and the projected costs of the proposed health care overhaul seem to grow with each passing day, the committee that writes our tax laws wants Americans to pay for the health care costs of illegal aliens.”

Stein noted that the committee vote happened the same week Zogby International released a poll revealing that 58 percent of Americans believe exempting illegal aliens from government health coverage is an “excellent” or “very good” plan for curbing costs. Only 20 percent said it was a “poor” idea.

According to a Center for Immigration Studies report, as many as one-third – or 15 million – of the often-cited “46 million people” without insurance are illegal aliens and their children.

A list of the 26 members of the House Ways and Means Committee who opposed the amendment barring illegal aliens from coverage is available at the FAIR website.

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