Wicker, Hyde-Smith Sponsor Legislation to Protect Medicaid from Funding Health Care for Illegal Immigrants

Proposal Would Prevent States from Using Federal Resources to Expand Medicaid Benefits to Unauthorized Immigrants

January 17, 2019

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., today helped introduce S. 131, the “Protect Medicaid Act,” which would prevent states from using federal resources to expand Medicaid services to illegal immigrants. The legislation is sponsored by Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D., R-La. Wicker and Hyde-Smith are original cosponsors of the bill.

“American taxpayers should not be responsible for providing health care to those who are in our country illegally,” Wicker said. “If states like New York or California want to provide their own funds to support unauthorized immigrants, they should shoulder the full administrative cost of providing these services.”

“The law is the law, and this bill would stop states from circumventing the law to offer Medicaid benefits to illegal immigrants,” said Hyde-Smith.  “This is a matter of fairness to states, like Mississippi, that follow the law and dedicate Medicaid resources to their citizens.”

Federal law already bars illegal immigrants from receiving Medicaid, but states like New York and California have attracted attention in recent months for using state funds to expand Medicaid coverage to unauthorized immigrants. These states effectively subsidize their programs with federal dollars by not counting the high administrative costs of providing Medicaid to millions of additional individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for support.

The legislation also requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General to produce a report addressing:

  • Whether states that provide Medicaid services to illegal immigrants separate federal and state dollars;
  • Whether states providing health benefits to illegal immigrants use methods of financing their state programs that would violate federal law; and
  • The extent to which unauthorized immigrants benefit from covered outpatient drugs purchased under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program and the 340B program, and whether this impacts the prices American citizens pay.