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Health Insurance for Undocumented

I am happy that Sinclair Broadcasting has recently purchased the Baltimore Sun newspaper. I am excited for the future and for Sinclair to return a once-great newspaper to prominence. However, I am disappointed to read this story written by Hannah Gaskill, who, incredibly, never even took the time to interview a single opposing view for her story.


The truth is we spent a considerable amount of time on this bill over the last couple of weeks, both on the subcommittee and in bill hearings. The bill was intensely debated. On Friday, HB728 was voted out of committee in a party-line vote. 

HB728 allows for the nearly 400,000 undocumented immigrants who allegedly live in Maryland to purchase health insurance on the Maryland exchange. (Yes, almost 400,000. Another data point in Ms. Gaskill's article got wrong.)

There are numerous concerns surrounding this bill. Let's acknowledge that offering incentives to undocumented immigrants may attract more individuals. Well-informed individuals witness the ongoing border chaos through nightly news coverage, and Maryland is no exception in facing challenges to manage the situation. A few weeks ago, Governor Moore signed a letter with eight other Democratic governors begging the Biden Administration for more money and resources for immigration aid.    

First, advocates' claims that taxpayer subsidies do not contribute to covering the premiums of undocumented immigrants are incorrect. The rates across the entire individual market are reduced due to a reinsurance plan implemented in 2018, funded by taxing private insurers. It is accurate to state that if HB728 is approved, the taxes imposed on Americans' insurance plans will provide discounted rates for individuals in the individual market, including undocumented immigrants.

Second, the issue with HB728 is that no residency verification is required for those undocumented immigrants applying for coverage. An applicant simply needs a Maryland P.O. Box or the address of a friend who lives in Maryland to receive coverage. There is no requirement to provide past paid utility bills, tax returns, or any other residency verifications required by Maryland law for so many other benefits. 

Third, and the most concerning thing for me, is the concern over future access to healthcare providers. This legislation could add hundreds of thousands of new people to the insurance rolls while we have not added a single doctor to provide healthcare. The lack of provider access hit home for me over the summer. As many of you know, I had a little healthcare scare, and from the time I was given the original referral for a biopsy, it took nearly seven weeks to get the appointment. Many constituents, especially in the aftermath of COVID-19, have complained about how long it takes to obtain an appointment to see a specialist. Adding hundreds of thousands of new people to the insurance rolls will only exacerbate the problem of receiving quality medical care in a timely manner.  

This third point may seem cruel or harsh at first reading, but I believe we have a moral obligation and responsibility to take care of our citizens first.  We should not expand coverage of life-saving resources with the rest of the world at the expense of our mothers, fathers, grandparents, friends, and citizens. I often avoid Presidential politics in my newsletter because the topic can be polarizing. Still, many people, including myself, believe in and support an American First agenda. Well, this bill falls into the American Last category.