The Corner

Romney, Perry Camps Spar Over Medical Benefits Given to Illegal Immigrants


The Romney campaign pushed back today against the Los Angeles Times story that reported a provision in Romney’s health-care program had allowed illegal immigrants access to health-care.

“To the extent that illegals are receiving some kind of care under the Health Safety Net, that would be a function of what the current governor, Deval Patrick, put into place,” said Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom on MSNBC today.

“Federal law requires emergency medical care for illegal immigrants.  And if illegal immigrants are getting access to additional healthcare in Massachusetts, it’s liberal Gov. Deval Patrick that has made it easier for them to do so.  All of the regulatory activities involving the Health Safety Net Fund, including who could get care, were made long after Mitt Romney left office. Mitt Romney’s record on illegal immigration is clear: as governor, he vetoed an in-state tuition bill for illegal immigrants and authorized his state troopers to detain people based on their immigration status. On the other hand, liberal Gov. Patrick has the same position on illegal immigration as Rick Perry – he favors in-state tuition and reversed an executive order to detain illegal immigrants – and neither can be trusted to deal with such an important issue,” said Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul in a statement.

But the Perry campaign is insisting that during Romney’s tenure, the Bay State provided some free medical care to illegal immigrants, sending out rules from 2004 for free medical care in Massachusetts that do not appear to require proof of citizenship to qualify for. The campaign also sent out a saved webpage from 2006 that, on the second page, explicitly notes that you do not have to provide any citizenship proof to received medical care. The Perry campaign is arguing that the medical benefits given exceeded the benefits federal law requires illegal immigrants receive (i.e., care in emergency rooms), since community health centers (not merely hospitals) were able to apply for reimbursement for care given.  

“Governor Romney’s government-mandated health care plan provided free care for illegal immigrants in Massachusetts, establishing just the kind of illegal immigration magnet Governor Romney claims to oppose. Program rules established by the Romney Administration in 2004 clearly state that citizenship is not required for free health care and subsidies and health centers cannot consider citizenship before rendering that free care,” said Perry spokesman Mark Miner in a statement.

“When faced with the illegal immigrant benefits this morning, the Romney campaign tried to deny indisputable facts and to cover their tracks by blaming Gov. Patrick,” Miner added. “The truth is Gov. Romney’s plan intended to provide free health care to illegal immigrants, and the law and rules he approved were clear about providing free health care to illegal immigrants.”  

But the Romney campaign also argues that Texas provides medical care for illegal immigrants, too.  Among the examples cited include $62 million the care of illegal immigrants cost the Texas Emergency Medicaid fund and the $33 million the Texas Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Perinatal Coverage is estimated to have spent on illegal immigrants. 

Katrina TrinkoKatrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...


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