Immigrants and their families are disproportionately taking advantage of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, according to a new study from the anti-amnesty Center for Immigration Studies.
Immigrants and their U.S.-born children account for 42 percent of the growth of Medicaid enrollment between 2011 and 2013, according to the report, although they make up just 17 percent of the U.S. population. By 2013, a quarter of all immigrants and their children were on Medicaid; in contrast, 16 percent of natural-born Americans and their children are on the health program for those with low incomes.
“It seems almost certain that immigrants and their children will continue to benefit disproportionately from Obamacare, as they remain much more likely than natives to be uninsured or poor,” the report concludes, adding that “available evidence indicates that Medicaid growth associated with immigrants is largely among those legally in the country.”
Immigrants are more likely to participate in Medicaid because they are also more likely to be uninsured or poor, according to the report’s author Steven Camarota, CIS’s director of research.
While both immigrants and natural-born citizens had a decline in the uninsured rate between 2011 and 2013 (before Obamacare exchanges opened), immigrants made larger strides — a five percentage point decrease compared to native citizens’ two percentage point decline. But a larger proportion of that was due to Medicaid: it accounts for 41 percent of the fall of uninsured immigrants, according to CIS.
“The high rate and significant growth in Medicaid associated with immigrants is mainly the result of a legal immigration system that admits large numbers of immigrants with relatively low-levels of education, many of whom end up poor and uninsured,” Camarota said in a statement.
Eight of the 10 states with the largest immigrant populations in 2012, according to Pew research, have implemented Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and are likely seeing even larger number of immigrants in their systems.
Florida and Texas, however, both have largely immigrant populations and have foregone the Medicaid expansion. GOP electoral victories in both states makes it unlikely that state officials will attempt to approve a Medicaid expansion anytime soon.
Some groups are pushing to extend Medicaid — and Obamacare — benefits even further. Just Tuesday evening, Health and Human Services chief Sylvia Burwell pushed for Obamacare benefits, Medicaid and all, to be extended to DREAM-eligible illegal immigrants — those who first came to the U.S. as children. (RELATED: Burwell: We Need To Give Obamacare To DREAMers)