The Washington Post writes today on a new law applying to Medicaid-
UNDER A NEW federal law that takes effect today, poor Americans will be required to produce proof of citizenship to be eligible for Medicaid. This may sound like a sensible safeguard against providing government-paid health benefits to illegal immigrants who fraudulently claim eligibility. It isn't. The new law and the unduly stringent rules that the Bush administration has produced to implement it are unnecessary, expensive and mean-spirited. They pose the threat that millions of people entitled to receive Medicaid benefits will be denied coverage.
But there's scant evidence of widespread fraud under the current system. In all but four states, Medicaid applicants attest, under penalty of perjury, that they are citizens, and officials can ask for documentation if there is reason for suspicion. As Mark B. McClellan, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, wrote in response to an inspector general's examination of the issue last year, "The report does not find particular problems regarding false allegations of citizenship, nor are we aware of any."
But the biggest risk is that, rather than preventing fraud, the provision will result in the denial of benefits to eligible Americans who can't come up with the required proof. After all, the typical Medicaid recipient doesn't have a passport, the preferred form of proof. Also, many elderly African Americans were born at home and were never issued birth certificates.
Under the administration's guidance for state Medicaid agencies, states can't extend coverage to new applicants while they scramble to obtain documentation. Impoverished senior citizens and people with disabilities who already receive Supplemental Security Income benefits -- and have therefore already had their citizenship verified by the Social Security Administration -- aren't automatically eligible. There aren't any exceptions for those who need immediate care; who are too incapacitated to produce documents (Alzheimer's patients, for example); or who are victims of natural disasters.
The law of unintended consequences say by solving one issue you create at least one more issue. This is a perfect example. The Post overstates its case some, always bringing up one racial group or using the number of millions. It won't be millions, but it will be hundreds if not thousands. People who are citizens of this country being punished for what? They aren't breaking the law.
And as the Post says the laws are there already in most states. Make that law nationwide and enforce it for those who violate it. Don't make it difficult for the law abiding. But that's what most laws do. We get punished for obeying the law.
The anti-immigration advocates both in Congress and Blogosphere(and include some of my favorite bloggers) are blinded in their zeal to see the day to day consequences of what they want done. Kick all the illegals out. How do we determine who the illegals are and how will they be swept up. Anyone who don't sound and look American? What is American and how many millions of legal aliens do we have here? How are we going to avoid sweeping up the innocent? What happens when they are? Want to hire them a lawyer or do they pay it? Someone is going to pay, and dearly for it.
The illegals are here. Lets tighten our borders, deport the felons, but if you think we can punish the rest without punishing innocents too, you're in a dreamland.
Open Post- Third World County, Point Five, Stop the ACLU, Wizbang, Uncooperative Blogger,
Cross posted to Bullwinkle Blog