Obamacare poses a tricky problem for supporters of the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill. It would be too politically toxic to give illegal immigrants amnesty and taxpayer subsidies under Obamacare, so the Senate bill prohibits “registered provisional immigrants” (individuals who are now residing illegally in the United States granted legal status under the bill) from receiving Obamacare subsidies. But in so doing the Senate’s immigration bill would create a big financial incentive for some employers to hire non-citizens granted legal status over American citizens.
As the Washington Examiner‘s Philip Klein recently reported: “Under Obamacare, businesses with over 50 workers that employ American citizens without offering them qualifying health insurance could be subject to fines of up to $3,000 per worker. But because newly legalized immigrants wouldn’t be eligible for subsidies on the Obamacare exchanges until after they become citizens – at least 13 years under the Senate bill – businesses could avoid such fines by hiring the new immigrants instead.”
On Tuesday afternoon, THE WEEKLY STANDARD asked five different U.S. Senators about this problem. These five senators, all Democrats, voted to cut off debate Monday night on the revised immigration bill, but none of them knew if the bill would create a financial incentive for some employers to hire amnestied immigrants instead of American citizens.
“We’re trying to solve that right now. I don’t know if that’s been solved,” Senator Max Baucus of Montana (chief author of Obamacare) told THE WEEKLY STANDARD.