HHS Official: Immigrants on Student Visas Will Be ‘Eligible’ for Obamacare Subsidies

A Department of Health and Human Services official told the House Ways and Means Committee that immigrants living in the United States on temporary visas are eligible for federally subsidized health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, “depending on their income.”

“It was my understanding it was just going to be those that are citizens of the United States or here as permanent legal residents,” Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Jim Gerlach said at a Thursday hearing on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. “Are there folks beyond that that are eligible for tax credit – taxpayer subsidies under this program?”

HHS Insurance Oversight Director Gary Cohen replied, “You have to be a citizen or lawfully present.”

When Gerlach asked for further explanation, Cohen said immigrants “could be here on a student visa and be eligible.”

Gerlach clarified Cohen’s statement by saying, “So a student from Germany comes to the United States to do four years of college; that student is going to be subsidized by taxpayers for health insurance?”

“They are eligible for subsidies depending on their income, yes,” Cohen replied.

He added that immigrants who “overstay” their visa would not be eligible for subsidies under the healthcare law.

Cohen also said the law’s “data hub” would allow HHS to verify applicants’ immigration status based on Homeland Security information.

New York Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley asked Cohen if any “personal data” would be stored on the hub.

“No. The hub just routes information from the secure data sources -- IRS, Social Security, etc. -- so that it -- so that we can verify information that people put on their applications,” Cohen said.

Tennessee Republican Rep. Diane Black has been an outspoken critic of the Obama administration’s decision to delay income verification under the healthcare law.