Rep. Zack Space
Rep. Zack Space

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Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee endorsed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio) that was designed to provide political cover for Representatives who want to give illegal aliens benefits under the healthcare reform bill (H.R. 3200). The amendment’s language reaffirms current law, which prohibits illegal aliens from applying for state Medicaid and child health insurance programs, but does not require states to verify whether applicants are actually eligible to apply. Therefore, H.R. 3200 will continue to allow states to require little more than an attestation of citizenship in benefit applications.

Under the health care bill, states would be required to automatically enroll non-traditional Medicaid individuals to the proposed government-run option. An amendment offered yesterday by Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) would have required states to verify an individual's citizenship status before automatically enrolling them. That amendment was defeated by one vote. Rep. Space, the sponsor of today’s amendment, was one of those who opposed the Deal amendment.

The Committee passed its portion of the bill tonight by a 31-28 margin. Before passage, Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) noted that that the remaining amendments not considered tonight will be placed in a separate bill. When Congress returns from recess, the committee will mark up and pass that bill. The Rules Committee, he said, would deem it to be an accepted amendment for floor debate on H.R. 3200.
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Updated: Tue, Sep 22nd 2009 @ 11:53am EDT