By Tom Curry National affairs writer
msnbc.com
updated 8/31/2009 8:42:16 PM ET 2009-09-01T00:42:16

Claim: The health insurance overhaul will allow illegal immigrants to get insurance.

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During President Obama's Wednesday night speech to a joint session of Congress, Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C. shouted "you lie" after Obama said "the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally." Illegal immigrants are barred from the Medicaid, except for emergency care. Most legal non-citizens have to wait five years before becoming eligible for Medicaid. Some states provide Medicaid to pregnant legal immigrant women who've resided in the United States for less than five years and to pregnant illegal immigrant women. Some critics worry health reform will open the door to covering illegal immigrants.

Is it fact or fiction?
Fiction.
The House and Senate bills would bar illegal immigrants from getting subsidies to join the new insurance system. But Democrats may enact legislation which would allow illegal immigrants to obtain legal status and gain insurance.

What the bill says about illegal immigrants
The House bill says illegal immigrants cannot get subsidies to take part in the new insurance system, but doesn't have a specific mechanism to verify immigration status. Illegal immigrants residing in the United States would be required to have health insurance.

When will Congress enact immigration reform?
The lead Senate Democrat on immigration policy, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., will unveil an immigration reform bill this fall. The bill is likely to provide a path to legal status for some illegal immigrants. Once they got legal status, they'd be able to get covered under the House insurance bill and would get subsidies if they met the income requirement. Still unknown: Will Congress shorten the current 5-year wait for non-citizens to get Medicaid and CHIP?

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