The new SCHIP bill set for a vote today, attempts to woo Republicans by prohibiting illegal immigrants from enrolling in the program. These changes don’t advance the bill’s goals and actually increase the damage SCHIP would inflict on states.
One of the main justifications for SCHIP, is that it presumably saves states money by mitigating the need for emergency care. But the additional restrictions on immigrants make it that much more likely that ER visits will increase, costing states more money in the long-term. With tightening restrictions on hiring illegal workers, immigrants have decreasing access to private health care supplied by employers. According to studies, immigrants are more likely to be living in poverty in the US, making up a large proportion of the impoverished population (roughly one in four persons living in poverty is an immigrant). Presumably, illegal immigrants make up a large portion of the immigrant population. By preventing illegals from enrolling in SCHIP, the bill simply makes it more likely that they will require trips to the emergency room for any illness—it being their only option. Regardless of how one feels about illegal immigration, restricting SCHIP enrollment to American citizens does not increase the benefits of SCHIP.