Law-breaking by illegal aliens may start at the border, but continues… all the way to the pharmacy counter. Although federal law bans illegal aliens from receiving public benefits, the federal government paid $28,990,718 in Medicare Part D benefits to illegal aliens from 2009 to 2011, according to a recent government report. That’s nearly $29 million! That is the same amount Congress appropriated for the new Customs and Border Protection officers for southwest ports of entry in 2010. Instead of the U.S. paying for public benefits that serve as a magnet to encourage illegal immigration, shouldn’t those funds be going to combat illegal immigration?
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) promises to recover the improper payments and put forth new regulations and procedures to prevent future illegal payments. However, stopping the improper payments to illegal aliens involves establishing a new operational mechanism. CMS has offered no timeframe to make this fix, as Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) pointed out. It remains to be seen whether CMS will follow through on the fix, but the fact that they didn’t have a policy and controls to prevent the improper payments in the first place is troubling.
What’s more troubling is that the federal government has not stopped other payments to illegal aliens even when the fix is relatively simple, like the additional child tax credit (ACTC) reform. Illegal aliens use individual taxpayer identification numbers (as opposed to Social Security numbers) to fraudulently claim the ACTC. To address this problem, several Members of Congress including Sen. David Vitter (R-Louisiana), Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Georgia), and Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), introduced legislative fixes that would require an individual to submit a Social Security number—instead of a taxpayer ID number—to receive the tax credit. The House of Representatives passed the measure three times, but Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) sided with illegal aliens over citizens and repeatedly refused to bring the bill to a vote in the Senate. The problem could have also been fixed during conference negotiations over the payroll tax cut bill in 2012, but House GOP leaders let the ACTC fix fall on the cutting room floor. The fix has not been implemented, and ACTC fraud continues today.
It’s about time that Americans start posing the $29 million question to their lawmakers: When will the U.S. stop paying benefits to illegal aliens? Until someone makes reform a priority, illegal aliens will continue to get their fill – and refill – of public benefits from Uncle Sam.