New Illegal Immigration Problem Looms for Romney
His 2006 health-care law provides medical care to undocumented immigrants
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Oct 24, 2011 9:59 AM CDT
Mitt Romney participates in the Republican presidential debate airing on CNN, October 18, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – In last week's angry debate, Rick Perry resurrected allegations that Mitt Romney hired a lawn service that used undocumented immigrants—and that may not be the final illegal immigrant discussion Romney gets pulled into. The Los Angeles Times reports that his 2006 health care law's Health Safety Net program allows the uninsured—and, by extension, uninsured illegal immigrants—to get basically free care at any health clinic or hospital in Massachusetts. Supporters say the program, which cost more than $400 million last year, actually saves money in the long run, because it keeps the uninsured from seeking care at a more expensive hospital emergency room.

Last year, the Health Safety Net program paid for 1.1 million hospital and clinic visits, but there is no data on how many of those were for undocumented patients. Romney’s former state health and human services secretary says the governor did not intend for the program to serve illegal immigrants, but other officials tell the LAT it was understood that some undocumented immigrants would indeed benefit. The law explicitly prohibits illegal immigrants from some of the benefits (like receiving government subsidies to purchase insurance), but does not bar them from Health Safety Net. (In other Romney-Perry news: Things get even more unfriendly.)

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Showing 3 of 13 comments
Oct 24, 2011 1:54 PM CDT
Of course Perry knew Romney had illegals on his property. Perry was coming over to give them Texas taxpayer money so they could go to college.
Oct 24, 2011 10:36 AM CDT
too many clowns in one circus!
Oct 24, 2011 10:31 AM CDT
We keep getting distracted by the scampering shiny object called "immigration." We must keep our eye on who REALLY wrecked this economy ... and I'll give you a hint: they're not "illegal!" We need to handle a system that institutionally supports and encourages the flow of ever-increasing amounts of weath into ever fewer hands. We need to redirect those who are fixated on all the "American jobs" that those "illegal aliens" are "stealing." Look, we could put six MILLION Americans back to work this MONTH ... all they have to do is head out to the farms, fields, orchards and groves, the packing houses and slaughter houses and meat packing plants and poultry processing plants and to all the companies that are cleaning up our hotels and our airports and train stations and mowing our lawns ... and apply for allllll those "stolen" jobs!! INSTANTLY ... six million Americans back at work in those "stolen jobs" and six million "illegal aliens" losing their incentive to BE HERE. Which candidate will advocate THAT?