Obama’s Executive Order, Its Impact on Health Care Costs, and the Constitutionality of Executive Orders
Pres. Barack Obama will address the nation tonight at 8 pm (Thursday, November, 20, 2014). He is expected to discuss his executive order that will delay deportations of up to 5 million migrants.
What does an executive order on immigration have to do with Medicaid? Well, you can bank on the fact that almost none of the 5 million people has private health care coverage….which means, there is a high likelihood that most, if not all, the people would qualify for Medicaid.
With the expansion of Medicaid in many states, adding another 5 million people to the Medicaid program would be drastic. Think about it…in NC, approximately 1.8 million people rely on Medicaid as their insurance. 5 million additional Medicaid recipients would be like adding 3 more North Carolinas to the country.
So I looked into it…
The Kaiser Family Foundation website states that even immigrants who have been in America over 5 years are sometimes still barred from getting Medicaid and those people would remain uninsured. The Kaiser website states that under current law “some lawfully present immigrants who are authorized to work in the United States cannot enroll in Medicaid, even if they have been in the country for five or more years.”
By law, only immigrants who have green cards are entitled to enroll in Medicaid or purchase subsidized health care coverage through the ACA. Usually those immigrants with green cards are on the course to become citizens.
Regardless of whether Obama’s executive order tonight will or will not allow the 5 million people Medicaid coverage (which it will not), the executive order absolutely will greatly increase health care costs
The truth is that, with or without Obama’s executive order, the government already funds some health care for undocumented immigrants. We have an “emergency Medicaid” program and it pays hospitals to provide emergency and maternity care to immigrants if: 1) he or she otherwise would be Medicaid eligible if they weren’t in the country illegally or 2) he or she are legally present in this country for less than 5 years. (Which is the reason that ER wait times are so long…if you have no health insurance and you get sick, the ER is precisely where you go).
However, with the additional 5 million people living within the borders of USA, it is without question that the “emergency Medicaid” funds will sharply escalate as hospitals provide more emergency care. ER waits times will, inevitably, increase. Health care costs, in general, surge as the population increases. And the addition of 5 million folks in America is not a “natural” increase in population. It will be like we added additional states. Overnight and with the stroke of a pen, our population will grow immensely. I guess we will see whether we get “growing pains.”
An act of Congress will still be required before the undocumented immigrants impacted by the executive order would be allowed to participate in the Medicaid programs and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage.
As to the Constitutionality of executive orders…
Executive orders are not specifically mentioned in the Constitution. Many people interpret the nonexistence of executive orders in the Constitution as barring executive orders.
Article I Section I of the Constitution clearly states that all legislative powers reside in Congress. However, an executive order is not legislation. Technically, an executive order is a policy or procedure issued by the President that is a regulation that applies only to employees of the executive branch of government.
Nonetheless, our country has a vast history of president’s issuing executive orders. Abraham Lincoln issued an executive order to engage military in the Civil War, Woodrow Wilson issued an executive order arming the military before we entered World War I, and Franklin Roosevelt approved Japanese internment camps during World War II with an executive order.
Regardless of your political affiliation, in my opinion, it is very interesting that Obama would initiate an executive order regarding immigration given his past statements over the years complaining about past presidents’ executive orders being unconstitutional.
In 2008 campaign speeches, Obama regularly emphasized the importance of civil liberties and the sanctity of the Constitution.
In fact, in speeches, Obama stated, “most of the problems that we have had in civil liberties were not done through the Patriot Act, they were done through executive order by George W. Bush. And that’s why the first thing I will do when I am president is to call in my attorney general and have he or she review every executive order to determine which of those have undermined civil liberties, which are unconstitutional, and I will reverse them with the stroke of a pen.”
Whether or not people believe that executive orders are constitutional, it is indisputable that presidents on both sides of the aisle have issued executive orders.
Reagan and Bush issued executive orders. Although there is an argument that those executive orders came on the heels of congressional bills, as adjustments. Neither Reagan nor Bush simply circumvented Congress.
Going back to tonight’s anticipated executive order allowing 5 million migrants to remain in America…
While the executive order will not allow the 5 million people immediate access to Medicaid and other subsidized health care, it will allow 5 million more uninsured people to exist in America, which will, undoubtedly, increase health care costs and ER visits. And, eventually, the additional 5 million people will be eligible for Medicaid, subsidized health care, and all other benefits of living in America.