HHS Gets Around To Enforcing Law Passed In 1996

Back in 1996 Congress passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRAIRA), as part of which was a significant reform of welfare that prevented illegal aliens from using various welfare programs, including Medicare, the healthcare program for old people.

And today we hear that only now has the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it will be implementing IIRAIRA with regard to Medicare benefits obtained by illegal aliens.

Washington Times By Tom Howell January 7, 2014

Illegals Still Get Medicare Benefits, But Feds Vow Crackdown, $70M Savings

Federal health officials vowed this week to crack down on illegal immigrants who get Medicare — signaling that one part of the Obama administration believes it has authority to deny taxpayer-funded benefits going to those in the country without authorization.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said it could save nearly $70 million from 2015 to 2019 by preventing illegal immigrants from taking advantage of Medicare’s prescription drug program or enrolling in Medicare Advantage plans.

“We are proposing to establish U.S. citizenship and lawful presence as an eligibility requirement for enrollment in [Medicare Advantage] and Part D plans,” said a proposed rule posted late Monday…

The Medicare proposal, he said, seems to be a cleanup effort to make sure regulations are consistent with the 1996 welfare law.

IIRAIRA is almost 20 years extant, Medicare Advantage has been extant for almost 20 years, and Medicare Part D is almost 10 years extant.  

Only now is HHS getting around to getting that program into compliance with immigration law.  What they are admitting is that for almost 10 years Medicare Part D and for almost 20 years for Medicare Advantage. So, for three administrations, Clinton, Bush and Obama, HHS refused to apply IIRAIRA to two major programs it administers.  And one wonders why we have an illegal immigration problem.