The Florida senator, who favors a "path to citizenship," says it may be too costly if its beneficiaries qualify for the Affordable Care Act.
Appearing Tuesday on Rush Limbaugh's radio show, Senator Marco Rubio said that the comprehensive immigration-reform deal he wants to reach with President Obama could be jeopardized if those made legal through a "path to citizenship" would be eligible for Obamacare.
As he put it:
If you are a lawfully present in the country but you are not a green-card holder, you do not qualify for any federal benefits. That's existing law. And so that means that the folks that are gonna be in this probationary stage that's in our principles, they don't qualify for any federal benefits except for one, Obamacare. Obamacare is the only federal benefit where you qualify for it, not because you have a green card but only because you're lawfully present.
That needs to be resolved because if Obamacare is available to 11 million people, it blows a hole in our budget and makes this bill undoable. That's one of the major issues we're gonna have to confront.
Forget what existing law says, or whether or not Rubio has explained it correctly. The point is that the immigration negotiations unfolding in Washington are going to include the question of when, if ever, illegal immigrants covered in an amnesty would be eligible for the Affordable Care Act and subject to its mandate to purchase health insurance. Current legal immigrants will need to purchase health insurance in accordance with the mandate at the beginning of 2014.