Obamacare Offers Firms $3,000 Incentive to Hire Illegals over Native-Born Workers

Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, November 25, 2014

Under the president’s new amnesty, businesses will have a $3,000-per-employee incentive to hire illegal immigrants over native-born workers because of a quirk of Obamacare.

President Obama’s temporary amnesty, which lasts three years, declares up to 5 million illegal immigrants to be lawfully in the country and eligible for work permits, but it still deems them ineligible for public benefits such as buying insurance on Obamacare’s health exchanges.

Under the Affordable Care Act, that means businesses who hire them won’t have to pay a penalty for not providing them health coverage–making them $3,000 more attractive than a similar native-born worker, whom the business by law would have to cover.

The loophole was confirmed by congressional aides and drew condemnation from those who said it put illegal immigrants ahead of Americans in the job market.

“If it is true that the president’s actions give employers a $3,000 incentive to hire those who came here illegally, he has added insult to injury,” said Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican. “The president’s actions would have just moved those who came here illegally to the front of the line, ahead of unemployed and underemployed Americans.”

A Department of Homeland Security official confirmed that the newly legalized immigrants won’t have access to Obamacare, which opens up the loophole for employers looking to avoid the penalty.

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This isn’t the first time the Obamacare loophole has popped up on immigration. The overhaul bill that passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote last year created the same situation, granting illegal immigrants a long probationary period where they could legally work but weren’t eligible for public benefits such as Obamacare.

At the time, Arizona Sen. John McCain, one of the bill’s GOP authors, acknowledged the problem and vowed to change it before it became law. Despite passing the Senate, the bill has stalled, with Democratic leaders refusing to send it to the House for further action.

Brian Rogers, a spokesman for Mr. McCain, said Tuesday the solution to the loophole is to get rid of Obamacare’s employer mandate, “which would eliminate the incentive to hire people who are ineligible for Obamacare subsidies.” Mr. Rogers said the Republican majority that takes control of Congress next year should vote on that proposal.

Under Obamacare, businesses with 50 or more employees are supposed to provide insurance coverage to their full-time workers. If they refuse, they are assessed a penalty for every employee who receives subsidies to sign up for coverage on the health exchanges. But because the newly legalized illegal immigrants covered by Mr. Obama’s order can’t sign up for the exchanges or receive subsidies, employers aren’t penalized for hiring them.

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