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Posts tagged ‘Federation for American Immigration Reform’

Dennis Hastert: GOP Can’t Ignore Path to Citizenship for Immigrants.


The House immigration bill should include a pathway to citizenship for those who are already here, former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert says. 

“The whole formula for immigration reform can fall into place if two basic issues are solved,” Hastert, of Illinois, wrote in an opinion piece for Politico. “First, securing our borders so we know who is entering our country and for what purpose. Second, a legalization of those folks who are already here, many of whom have been here for a decade or more.”

And, Hastert explains, legalization means that there must be “a path to citizenship much like any other immigrant would have.” 

But the country cannot just do nothing, he said. “The cost of inaction is high,” Hastert claims. 

The United States has too much to gain economically, according to reports from the Congressional Budget Office and and the Bipartisan Policy Center that Hastert cites. The CBO predicted that Gross Domestic Product would increase 5.4 percent if the immigrants here were given citizenship over 20 years, and the BPC has said that immigration reform would reduce the federal deficit more than $1.2 trillion in the same amount of time. 

According to Hastert, immigration reform is also necessary to fill jobs in a variety of sectors such as science and technology, agriculture, and manufacturing, where immigrants are needed. 

“Immigration is necessary for our economic recovery,” he wrote. “We need a reasonable way to bring [immigrants] out of the shadows so that they can legally contribute to our economy.”

“Removing them is neither practical nor economically smart,” he added. 

There are national security issues at stake, as well. If Homeland Security knows who is here, it will make it easier for “law enforcement to refocus their resources on removing individuals with criminal backgrounds.” 

He also explains that embracing Latinos, which are expected to make up 30 percent of the population by 2050, is necessary for the political survival of the Republican Party. 

“My own party must acknowledge this reality and embrace these ever-growing constituencies if it is to remain relevant in national elections,” Hastert concluded in his opinion piece. 

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Courtney Coren

Ryan, Republicans Blame Obama for Stalling Immigration.


Republicans are starting to lay the blame on President Barack Obama if an overhaul of the nation’s broken immigration system fails to become law.

The GOP’s emerging plan on immigration is to criticize Obama as an untrustworthy leader and his administration as an unreliable enforcer of any laws that might be passed. Perhaps realizing the odds of finding a consensus on immigration are long, the Republicans have started telling voters that if the GOP-led House doesn’t take action this election year, it is Obama’s fault.

“If the president had been serious about this the last five years, we’d be further along in this discussion,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, said Sunday.

House Republicans last week unveiled a road map for an overhaul of the nation’s broken immigration system that calls for increased border security, better law enforcement within the U.S. and a pathway to legal status — but not citizenship — for millions of adults who live in America unlawfully. The proposal requires those here illegally to pay back taxes and fines.

But one of its backers, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, said distrust of Obama poisons interest among some in his Republican caucus.

“Here’s the issue that all Republicans agree on: We don’t trust the president to enforce the law,” said Ryan, his party’s vice presidential nominee in 2012.

Ryan said a plan that puts security first could only pass the House if lawmakers believe the administration would enforce it — an unlikely prospect given Republicans’ deep opposition to Obama. The president’s waivers for provisions in his 4-year-old health care law have increased suspicions among Republicans.

“This isn’t a trust-but-verify, this is a verify-then-trust approach,” Ryan said.

Asked whether immigration legislation would make its way to Obama for him to sign into law, Ryan said he was skeptical: “I really don’t know the answer to that question. That is clearly in doubt.”

The Senate last year passed a comprehensive, bipartisan bill that addressed border security, provided enforcement measures and offered a long and difficult path to citizenship for those living here illegally. The measure stalled in the GOP-led House, where leaders want to take a more piecemeal approach.

In the meantime, Republicans have started uniting behind a message that Obama won’t hold up his end of the bargain.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said “there’s a lot of distrust of this administration in implanting the law.” And Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., last week warned that distrust of Obama would trump the desire to find a solution for the estimated 11 million people living in the United States illegally.

“We just don’t think government will enforce the law anyway,” Rubio said, recounting conversations he’s had with fellow Republicans.

Immigration legislation is a dicey political question for the GOP. The party’s conservative base opposes any measure that would create a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living here illegally, but many in the party worry that failing to act could strengthen support among many voters for Democratic candidates.

In 2012, Obama won re-election with the backing of 71 percent of Hispanic voters and 73 percent of Asian voters. The issue is important to both voting blocs.

The White House, meanwhile, is trying to give Republicans a chance to hammer out their intra-party differences in the hopes they find a way to give legal standing to those here illegally.

“We ought to see a pathway to citizenship for people,” White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said Sunday. “We don’t want to have a permanent separation of classes or two permanent different classes of Americans in this country.”

McDonough said the White House remains optimistic that legislation that includes citizenship could reach the president’s desk: “We feel pretty good that we’ll get a bill done this year.”

Jindal spoke to CNN’s “State of the Union.” Ryan appeared on ABC’s “This Week.” Cantor was interviewed on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” McDonough appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CBS.

 

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Republican Plan Would Grant Citizenship to Some Undocumented Children.


A series of immigration reform steps floated on Thursday by House Republicans would grant citizenship for some children brought into the United States illegally by their parents and halt deportations of some undocumented adults, according to a policy document obtained by Reuters and The Associated Press.

The immigration reform principles, which a source said are open to change, were to be discussed on Thursday by House Republicans at a closed-door retreat at a resort on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.

House Republican leaders are floating the ideas to see if there is enough support among Republican lawmakers to push a series of immigration bills this year. But some conservative House Republicans already were criticizing the proposals and predicting they would go no further this year.

The principles also say the country’s national and economic security depends on requiring people who are living and working here illegally to come forward and get right with the law.

It rules out a special path to citizenship. Instead, it says immigrants living here illegally could remain and live legally if they pass background checks, pay fines and back taxes, learn to speak English and understand U.S. civics, and can support themselves without access to welfare.

Speaker John Boehner told reporters at the start of the closed-door conference on Thursday that there would be discussions on immigration and on a series of Republican “principles” developed by leaders of the party, which controls the House.

“I think it’s time to deal with it. But how we deal with it is going to be critically important,” Boehner said as he prepared to hold what promised to be a contentious Thursday session.

Immigration reform, which President Barack Obama is pressing to achieve this year, is one of the key issues before Republicans at their retreat on the Choptank River that flows into the Chesapeake Bay.

Early indications were that House Republicans were coalescing around advancing new healthcare legislation that they will present as an alternative to “Obamacare,” which suffered a troubled rollout in October. But such consensus was not yet forming around immigration reform legislation.

Asked whether Republicans would emerge with an alternative to a bipartisan immigration bill passed by the Senate in June, Boehner said only: “We’re going to have that conversation today; outline the principles, have the discussion, we’ll make some decisions.”

Some outspoken conservative Republicans pointedly disagreed with Boehner’s desire to move forward on immigration legislation.

“It’s not just the conservatives. I think a majority of the conference” think that now is “not the time to deal with the issue,” Representative Raul Labrador of Idaho told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Labrador, who last year was part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers working on a comprehensive immigration deal, said some Republicans fear that getting bogged down in a contentious immigration debate this year could jeopardize the party’s “great opportunity” to take control of the Senate away from Democrats in the November congressional elections.

His remarks came just hours after Boehner stood before television cameras complaining that immigration reform had “become a political football. I think it’s unfair.”

Contradicting Boehner on the high priority of immigration legislation, Labrador said, “I just don’t think this is the time.” He predicted that House Republicans will merely discuss their leaders’ immigration principles and then “move on” to other items this year – such as an alternative to Obama’s healthcare law.

Even allies of Boehner such as Representative Greg Walden of Oregon said that the first half of 2014 could go by without any action on the contentious immigration issue. “It’s probably months out, I don’t know,” Walden said on the sidelines of the Republican conference.

The full text of the GOP’s principles on immigration reads:

PREAMBLE
Our nation’s immigration system is broken and our laws are not being enforced. Washington’s failure to fix them is hurting our economy and jeopardizing our national security. The overriding purpose of our immigration system is to promote and further America’s national interests and that is not the case today. The serious problems in our immigration system must be solved, and we are committed to working in a bipartisan manner to solve them. But they cannot be solved with a single, massive piece of legislation that few have read and even fewer understand, and therefore, we will not go to a conference with the Senate’s immigration bill. The problems in our immigration system must be solved through a step-by-step, common-sense approach that starts with securing our country’s borders, enforcing our laws, and implementing robust enforcement measures. These are the principals guiding us in that effort.

Border Security and Interior Enforcement Must Come First
It is the fundamental duty of any government to secure its borders, and the United States is failing in this mission. We must secure our borders now and verify that they are secure. In addition, we must ensure now that when immigration reform is enacted, there will be a zero tolerance policy for those who cross the border illegally or overstay their visas in the future. Faced with a consistent pattern of administrations of both parties only selectively enforcing our nation’s immigration laws, we must enact reform that ensures that a President cannot unilaterally stop immigration enforcement.

Implement Entry-Exit Visa Tracking System
A fully functioning Entry-Exit system has been mandated by eight separate statutes over the last 17 years. At least three of these laws call for this system to be biometric, using technology to verify identity and prevent fraud. We must implement this system so we can identify and track down visitors who abuse our laws.

Employment Verification and Workplace Enforcement
In the 21st century it is unacceptable that the majority of employees have their work eligibility verified through a paper based system wrought with fraud. It is past time for this country to fully implement a workable electronic employment verification system.

Reforms to the Legal Immigration System
For far too long, the United States has emphasized extended family members and pure luck over employment-based immigration. This is inconsistent with nearly every other developed country. Every year thousands of foreign nationals pursue degrees at America’s colleges and universities, particularly in high skilled fields. Many of them want to use their expertise in U.S. industries that will spur economic growth and create jobs for Americans. When visas aren’t available, we end up exporting this labor and ingenuity to other countries. Visa and green card allocations need to reflect the needs of employers and the desire for these exceptional individuals to help grow our economy.
The goal of any temporary worker program should be to address the economic needs of the country and to strengthen our national security by allowing for realistic, enforceable, usable, legal paths for entry into the United States. Of particular concern are the needs of the agricultural industry, among others. It is imperative that these temporary workers are able to meet the economic needs of the country and do not displace or disadvantage American workers.

Youth
One of the great founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents. It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children through no fault of their own, those who know no other place as home. For those who meet certain eligibility standards, and serve honorably in our military or attain a college degree, we will do just that.

Individuals Living Outside the Rule of Law
Our national and economic security depend on requiring people who are living and working here illegally to come forward and get right with the law. There will be no special path to citizenship for individuals who broke our nation’s immigration laws – that would be unfair to those immigrants who have played by the rules and harmful to promoting the rule of law. Rather, these persons could live legally and without fear in the U.S., but only if they were willing to admit their culpability, pass rigorous background checks, pay significant fines and back taxes, develop proficiency in English and American civics, and be able to support themselves and their families (without access to public benefits). Criminal aliens, gang members, and sex offenders and those who do not meet the above requirements will not be eligible for this program. Finally, none of this can happen before specific enforcement triggers have been implemented to fulfill our promise to the American people that from here on, our immigration laws will indeed be enforced.
 

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Newsmax Wires

Obama’s New DHS Chief: Amnesty for Illegals ‘Matter of National Security’.


Image: Obama's New DHS Chief: Amnesty for Illegals 'Matter of National Security'

The new Homeland Security secretary says an earned path to citizenship for the roughly 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally is a matter of national security.

It was the first time Jeh Johnson, who had little experience with immigration policy before he was appointed, had outlined his approach on the subject.

The Defense Department’s former top lawyer, who worked on U.S. drone policies and helped end the Pentagon’s ban on gays in the military, said offering a path to citizenship would encourage such immigrants “to come out of the shadow, to be accountable, to participate in the American experience.”

In his speech last week at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Johnson said the vast majority of immigrants here illegally have been in the country for more than 10 years and offering a path to citizenship is “a matter (of) who we are as Americans.”

Johnson was sworn in as the fourth Homeland Security secretary late last year. While he has been making visits to the Mexican border and meeting with immigration enforcement officials, he had yet to give specifics on his immigration views until this speech.

Johnson was considered well-versed in matters of security, but many questioned his credentials on immigration.

During his Senate confirmation hearing last year, Johnson listed “common-sense immigration reform” among the top priorities of the department but did not provide any details.

Johnson’s brief remarks on immigration mirror those of his predecessor and President Barack Obama.

Obama and congressional Democrats have long pushed for a sweeping immigration bill that would, among other things, create a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally who don’t pose a threat to national security or public safety. Last year, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed a bill that also included a provision to nearly double the size of the Border Patrol.

Republicans have objected to allowing immigrants to gain citizenship before the border is secured.

Johnson did not address how he planned to direct immigration enforcement efforts.

In the absence of viable immigration legislation in Congress, Obama has approved a series of policy directives that largely have shielded various groups of immigrants from deportation. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, announced shortly before the 2012 presidential election, is the most significant and allows many young immigrants who arrived in the United States as children to apply for a work permit and a two-year reprieve from deportation.

Republican lawmakers have decried the programs as back-door amnesty and have asked Johnson to commit to enforcing immigration laws as they exist, including deporting immigrants in the country illegally.
© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

Conservatives Brace for Boehner Immigration Plan.


Image: Conservatives Brace for Boehner Immigration Plan

By Newsmax Wires

House Republicans led by Speaker John Boehner are preparing to unveil a major immigration initiative this week that many hope could trigger movement on an issue that has troubled the nation for decades.

The brief outline of immigration principles Boehner will unveil at a three-day Republican leadership retreat in Cambridge, Md., will include strengthening border security and creating new visas for foreign workers, and offer a path to legalization – though not necessarily citizenship – for the nation’s 11 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants, according to people briefed on the deliberations who spoke to The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Coming on the week of President Barack Obama’s “State of the Union” address, which will be given Tuesday night, some Democrats are expressing hope that new momentum could yield results after months in which the issue languished in the House.

On Sunday, speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Sen. Rand Paul said there is some room for compromise on immigration with the Obama administration.

Latest: Do You Support Giving Illegals Citizenship? Vote Here Now 

“We don’t agree on the whole comprehensive package with the Democrats, but I’ll bet you about half of it we agree on,” Paul said. “The question is: are we willing to narrow our focus and go after things that we can agree to and get them done, or are we going to stay so polarized that we always have to have our way or the highway?”

Administration officials and others told the Post that there still is a long way to go before any compromise could be reached between the House and Senate, which approved a bipartisan plan to overhaul border-control laws last June.

“It’s a very big deal, and there’s a path here that could get it done,” Cecilia Munoz, the White House’s director of domestic policy, told the Post.

Specifically, Boehner’s initiative would come in the form of simple statement of principles.

The central idea is to put forth separate bills dealing with such issues as:

  • border security
  • the hiring of illegal immigrants
  • guest-worker rules
  • a path to citizenship for those who arrived in the country illegally as children
  • a plan to legalize undocumented workers who have American family ties or sponsoring employers

This is far different from the view long held by Obama and Democrats that immigration could be taken up in a single, sweeping bill.

But Obama and Democratic leaders have said they are open to the multiple-bill approach favored by Boehner and key Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Rubio’s backing is crucial for the key bloc of tea party Republicans in both the House and the Senate.

Fixing the immigration crisis is believed key to the electoral fortunes of both Democrats and Republicans. Obama is facing mounting pressure from immigration advocates to halt deportations, which are on pace to soon top the 2 million mark during his tenure. That’s more than the George W. Bush administration deported in its entire eight years.

Republican Party leaders, meanwhile, are convinced that their party must broaden its appeal to Latinos and Asian Americans. Obama won reelection in 2012 with the support of more than 70 percent of those voters.

On Friday, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned Republicans that fixing immigration is essential to their plans to take the Senate in 2014 and recapture the White House in 2016.

“If you are against the fastest-growing voting bloc in the country, you and your party don’t have a future,” Bloomberg said flatly at a forum on immigration Friday with Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, who served in President George W. Bush’s administration.

“The principles they lay out I’m sure won’t satisfy everybody,” Bloomberg said. But, he added, “if we can make some compromises here for the good of the country, I think we have a very good chance for the first time in a long time of changing something that is really damaging all of us.”

Boehner’s plan is designed to assuage concerns of conservative Republicans who oppose outright citizenship or amnesty for illegal immigrants who arrived in the country as adults, but do not oppose a path toward legalization.

Alfonso Aguilar, of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, said the question now is whether Democrats would kill any plan toward legalization that does not include citizenship. He pointed to a Pew Hispanic Center poll that showed 61 percent of immigrant Latinos place legalization higher on their preferences than citizenship, the Post reported.

Conservative opponents of any compromise on immigration reform had hoped to obstruct the Senate immigration bill in a Senate-House conference committee. However, party leaders appear to be trying to come up with a compromise that circumvents the formal structure of a conference committee, the Times reported.

Meanwhile, House immigration hawks are working on an alternative to Boehner’s proposal, Breitbart reported. 

On Thursday, aides to House conservatives who oppose the leadership’s plan gathered in the office of Sen. Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama and a fierce opponent of the immigration push, to plot a strategy to torpedo it.

Rep. Raúl R. Labrador, a Republican of Idaho and once a leading immigration negotiator in the House, told the Times it would be a mistake to push forward.

“The president has shown he’s not willing to work with us on immigration,” Labrador said. “It’s not worth having a party divided when we have so many issues we can come together on.”

Still, many Republicans — especially governors like Snyder — are thought to favor an rapid, comprehensive overhaul of the system.

“We need comprehensive immigration reform. To be blunt, we have a dumb system,” said Snyder, who described efforts in Michigan to grant visas to immigrants for work. He said it would “turbo-charge” the economy in places like Detroit.

Gutierrez said that without immigration overhaul, “our workforce down the road doesn’t grow,” and argued that there was increasing recognition within the GOP that it must be the party of immigration.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the No. 3 leader in the House, expressed support this week for legalization for many of the immigrants here illegally while Democrats have pressed for a path to citizenship.

An unusual coalition of business, labor and evangelicals has lobbied hard for immigration legislation. Thomas Donohue, president of the Chamber of Commerce, has said immigration overhaul is a top priority this year. Donohue met with Boehner last week.

The issue is also crucial to several House Republicans whose districts have seen an increase in Hispanics and who are concerned about their re-election chances.

Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., who met with Boehner earlier this month, said the speaker is “very committed to getting it done and getting it done this year. He quoted Boehner as saying, “There’s no good time to do it, so let’s just get it done now.'”

Latest: Do You Support Giving Illegals Citizenship? Vote Here Now

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Millions still go without insurance if law passes.


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  • In this Wednesday, May 30, 2012, photo, Angela Laws poses for a photo in Leesburg, Va. Laws, 58, runs a small business that cleans and maintains commercial buildings and figures that she'll remain uninsured if she can't find an affordable coverage option that fits a monthly budget already crammed with payments of $1,203 for rent $530 toward her car. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)In this Wednesday, May 30, 2012, …
  • In this Wednesday, May 30, 2012, photo, Angela Laws poses for a photo in Leesburg, Va. Laws, 58, runs a small business that cleans and maintains commercial buildings and figures that she'll remain uninsured if she can't find an affordable coverage option that fits a monthly budget already crammed with payments of $1,203 for rent $530 toward her car. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)In this Wednesday, May 30, 2012, …

One of the biggest misconceptions about President Obama’s health care overhaul isn’t who the law will cover, but rather who it won’t.

If it survives Supreme court scrutiny, the landmark overhaul will expand coverage to about 30 million uninsured people, according to government figures. But an estimated 26 million U.S. residents will remain without coverage — a population that’s roughly the size of Texas and includes illegal immigrants and those who can’t afford to pay out-of-pocket for health insurance.

“Many people think that this health care law is going to cover everyone, and it’s not,” says Nicole Lamoureux, executive director of the Alexandria, Va.-based National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics, which represents about 1,200 clinics nationally.

To be sure, it’s estimated that the Affordable Care Act would greatly increase the number of insured Americans. The law has a provision that requires most Americans to be insured or face a tax penalty. It also calls for an expansion of Medicaid, a government-funded program that covers the health care costs of low-income and disabled Americans. Additionally, starting in 2014, there will be tax credits to help middle-class Americans buy coverage.

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down a decision this month on whether to uphold the law completely or strike down parts or all of it. If it survives, about 93 percent of all non-elderly, legal U.S. residents will be covered by 2016. That’s up from 82 percent this year.

Still, millions of illegal immigrants won’t qualify for coverage. This population will account for roughly 26 percent of those who will remain uninsured, according to Urban Institute, a nonpartisan think tank.

And many legal U.S. residents will go without insurance, too. About 36 percent of the population that remains uninsured will qualify for Medicaid but won’t sign up for various reasons. Others likely will make too much money to qualify for assistance but be unable to afford coverage.

Here’s a look at some of the groups that will likely remain uninsured if the law survives:

ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS

More than 11 million unauthorized immigrants live in the United States, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research center. That amounts to nearly 4 percent of the total population. But there are no provisions that address illegal immigrants in the health care law.

They won’t be able to sign up for Medicaid. They won’t be eligible for the tax credits to help buy coverage. And they won’t be able to use online marketplaces that the government will set up in order for people to get coverage in a process that’s similar to buying plane tickets on travel web sites. Those online exchanges, much like the tax credits, will require proof of citizenship.

“They will still need to find alternative ways to seek care because nothing in the law really expands coverage and affordable coverage options for undocumented immigrants,” says Sonal Ambegaokar, a health policy attorney with the National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles.

The topic is a politically divisive issue. On one side, there are people who say that the government should provide health care for all U.S. residents — legal or not. The other side contends that doing so could take valuable resources away from U.S. citizens.

“Because of the limited supply of health care, we’re almost in a sociological triage,” says Bob Dane, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a national group that calls for stricter immigration laws. “It begs the question, ‘Who do we serve, who do we serve first and who is not entitled?'”

Researchers have found that immigrants tend to use the health care system less than legal residents. Illegal immigrants, in particular, tend to avoid using the health care system until they have to, favoring home remedies first or making cash payments to providers when they need care. That population also is younger, so it generally has fewer health care needs, says Timothy Waidmann, a researcher with Urban Institute.

The think tank, using federal government survey data, estimates that illegal immigrants accounted for an estimated $18 billion of the $1.4 trillion spent on health care in the United States in 2007. That adds up to less than 2 percent of total spending.

Some say excluding illegal immigrants from the overhaul will keep some legal residents uninsured, too. Ambegaokar, the Los Angeles attorney, points to parents who are illegal immigrants but have children who are legal citizens because they were born in the United States.

If the parents are not eligible, they may not know that their kids qualify. And in other instances, if one child is legal and the other is not, the parents may decide not to sign up either to avoid playing favorites.

“The goal is to enroll everybody who is eligible,” Ambegaokar says. “But when you make systems complicated and require proof of ID, you’re going to inevitably keep out people who should be in.”

LOST IN TRANSLATION

Medicaid, which currently covers more than 60 million people, is expected to add about 17 million more people to its program by 2016 if the law is upheld, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which researches budgetary issues for Congress.

But people are still expected to fall through the cracks. That’s because the requirements and process for signing up for Medicaid can be confusing. And while the overhaul aims to make the process easier, it won’t smooth out all the wrinkles.

The problem? Many people don’t realize that they qualify for coverage. And that likely will still be the case, albeit to a lesser extent, after Medicaid expands.

Coverage depends on how someone’s income stacks up to federal poverty guidelines, which can be obscure to the average person. Plus, because income can fluctuate, someone could qualify one year but not the next.

“Regardless of how much outreach you do … you’re never going to get perfect enrollment,” Matthew Buettgens, another Urban Institute researcher, says.

Staying enrolled can be another hurdle. Medicaid recipients have to re-enroll, sometimes more than once a year. They can be dropped if they miss deadlines, submit incomplete forms or if paperwork doesn’t catch up with them after they move — something poor families tend to do more frequently than the average American household.

Leeanna Herman learned this when an unexpected $300 doctor bill arrived in the mail. The Bakersfield, Calif., resident was pregnant and unemployed and didn’t know her government-funded health coverage had lapsed.

“I was freaking out,” says Herman, 23, who went a month without coverage because she missed the deadline to re-enroll. “How do you expect me to pay that?'”

Experts say online applications and electronic verification of income levels and other things will make this process easier. But deadlines will still matter and some people don’t have easy access to the Internet. And there will still be some people who simply won’t enroll.

“There will always be that segment that says, ‘Aw, the heck with it, I will just wait until I get sick and go to the ER,'” says Stephen Schilling, CEO of Clinica Sierra Vista, a nonprofit that has a network of 27 community health centers in California.

Schilling expects to still see a lot of uninsured patients at the nonprofit group’s health centers even if the law is upheld. The center sits in an agricultural area in California’s San Joaquin Valley, populated with migrant workers and saddled with an unemployment rate of around 15 percent.

It cares for about 60,000 uninsured people annually, thanks in part to grants and a sliding fee scale for patients based on their family size and income. Schilling says he still expects between 20,000 and 40,000 uninsured patients if the overhaul is implemented.

LIVING IN THE GAP

The overhaul calls for tax credits to help middle-class Americans buy coverage. But some people who make too much money to qualify for the tax credits may have a hard time finding an affordable option for private health insurance

The subsidies can pay a large chunk of the insurance bill. For instance, a 40-year-old person who makes $50,000 in 2014 and needs coverage for a family of four might receive a government tax credit of more than $8,000.

That would cover more than 70 percent of the premium, or the cost of coverage, according to a subsidy calculator on the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation’s website. Of course, that estimate depends on the type of coverage the person choses, where they live and whether they can get coverage through work.

But the tax credits will go to people with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or $44,680 for an individual this year. People just above that level may have a hard time finding affordable health insurance.

Angela Agnew Laws worries that she might remain uninsured like she has been for the past eight years even if the health care law is upheld.

Laws, who lives in Leesburg, Va., runs a small business that cleans and maintains commercial buildings. She hopes her income will climb to about $60,000 by 2014, which would be too high for tax credit help.

A plan that offers more than just basic protection against big medical expenses could cost as much as $10,000 annually for Laws. She could find less extensive coverage for a lower premium, but that may only save about $1,000.

Laws, 58, figures that she’ll remain uninsured if she can’t find an affordable coverage option that fits a monthly budget already crammed with payments of $1,203 for rent $530 toward her car.

“It’s a scary prospect for me,” she says.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

Associated PressBy TOM MURPHY | Associated Press

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