Perry campaign: RomneyCare made Mass. an ‘illegal immigration magnet’

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After being pummeled by the other Republican presidential candidate for providing in-state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is going after former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for a provision in his Massachusetts health care law, reported by the LA Times, which allows illegal immigrants to get medical treatment on the taxpayer’s dime.

“Governor Romney’s government-mandated health care plan provided free care for illegal immigrants in Massachusetts, establishing just the kind of illegal immigration magnet Governor Romney claims to oppose,” said Perry spokesman Mark Miner. “Program rules established by the Romney administration in 2004 clearly state that citizenship is not required for free health care and subsidies and health centers cannot consider citizenship before rendering that free care.”

The LA Times explained that the program, known as the Health Safety Net, cost more than $400 million last year and paid for 1.1 million hospital and clinic visits, though it is unclear how many of those were visits from illegal immigrants. The article further noted that there was an “understanding” when Romney signed the law that illegals would benefit from the program, as — unlike other portions of the law — the Health Safety Net does not bar illegals from participating in the program.

The Romney campaign, however, has blamed Romney’s successor for the allowance.

“Federal law requires emergency medical care for illegal immigrants. And if illegal immigrants are getting access to additional healthcare in Massachusetts, it’s liberal Gov. Deval Patrick that has made it easier for them to do so. All of the regulatory activities involving the Health Safety Net Fund, including who could get care, were made long after Mitt Romney left office,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said.

Predictably, the Perry campaign is not accepting that excuse. (RELATED: Romney campaign: NYT using ‘pretty deceptive reporting’ in flat tax story)

“When faced with the illegal immigrant benefits this morning, the Romney campaign tried to deny indisputable facts and to cover their tracks by blaming Gov. Patrick,” Miner said in a statement. “The truth is Gov. Romney’s plan intended to provide free health care to illegal immigrants, and the law and rules he approved were clear about providing free health care to illegal immigrants.”

Saul said that Romney’s record speaks for itself, adding a dig in at Perry — “Mitt Romney’s record on illegal immigration is clear: As governor, he vetoed an in-state tuition bill for illegal immigrants and authorized his state troopers to detain people based on their immigration status,” she said. “On the other hand, liberal Gov. Patrick has the same position on illegal immigration as Rick Perry — he favors in-state tuition and reversed an executive order to detain illegal immigrants — and neither can be trusted to deal with such an important issue.”

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