It's come to light that the 2005 spending bill contains a little-publicized new restriction:
Individuals seeking care through Medicaid beginning on July 1 will be required under federal law to show proof of U.S. citizenship -- such as a birth certificate, passport or another form of identification -- the Boston Globe reports. The requirement was included in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which President Bush signed into law earlier this year. The provision's intent is to prevent undocumented immigrants from claiming to be citizens in order to receive benefits only provided to legal residents, according to the Globe.
Can we say Katrina??
It's well known that African Americans, not just "immigrants", often have no birth certificate or proof of citizenship (and they're certainly not using passports to go vacation in Europe). And certainly recent natural disasters give us pause when considering these kinds of provisions -- imagine how many documents were lost last September.
This bill is only going to make it harder for the most vulnerable and poor to get health care. Any money it saves by denying illegal immigrants care will be far outshadowed by the extra pain we're shifting to other Americans, who are the victims of unfortunate circumstance.