Sen. Barrasso Grills HHS Sec. Becerra Over Free Healthcare For Illegal Immigrants

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Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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Republican Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso grilled Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra Thursday for allegedly handing out free healthcare to illegal immigrants.

Barrasso pressed Becerra on hospitals in sanctuary cities across the U.S. being overwhelmed by the number of illegal immigrants “flooding” their emergency rooms at taxpayer funded clinics. A clinic in Chicago reported admitting nearly 16,000 migrants in the previous year, costing over $30 million of American taxpayer dollars to care for them, and Denver Health reported over 20,000 migrants and is facing financial difficulties, the senator explained.

“These hospitals are now asking the federal government to bail them out, and it’s completely Democrat-caused failure to enforce the law at the southern border,” Barrasso said. “Can you please explain why it is the responsibility of hardworking American taxpayers to foot the bill for all of this care for people, 9 million now from all across the world, who have flooded their way into the United States?”

“Senator, I appreciate the question. What I can tell you is that we have extended the resources and the authorities that we have at HHS to try to be there to help any healthcare facility when there is a way that we can go in to be supportive,” Becerra replied. “I don’t know of a particular case that you might want to mention, but I know that we are prepared to be supportive of any facility where the authorities that you have given us allow us to go in and support.”

“Well, in terms of — it’s not hard to find stories about hospitals in one sanctuary city after another saying we are overwhelmed with the number of people who are treating and have no way to cover the costs other than turning to the American taxpayers,” the senator continued. “The federal government doesn’t pay for the healthcare of every legal U.S. citizen. It seems like it’s in the position now to do it for all these illegal immigrants. Why should the American citizens be forced to pay for illegal migrants to receive this same care for free? Because that’s what’s happening.”

Becerra said he is unaware of how every state operates its individual healthcare system. He assured the senator that the HHS will be “responsive” to those in need. (RELATED: Illegal Immigrant Arrested For 13th Time After Years-Long Crime Spree, ICE Says)

“You are aware that when a hospital is inundated with people who are not paying, they have to shift the cost to the people that are paying, and that’s what’s happening right now all across the country and specifically in so many of these sanctuary cities,” the senator continued.

HHS and the Department of the Treasury approved a program in December 2022 to permit Washington state to use federal pass-through dollars to subsidize illegal immigrants’ healthcare. Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a plan in 2019 to offer free healthcare services to low-income illegal immigrants paid for by taxpayer dollars, which was estimated to cost nearly $100 million.

Republican Montana Sen. Steve Daines dispatched a letter to Secretary Denis McDonough of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) raising questions about a report that the agency’s resources were allocated to process the medical claims of illegal immigrants held in detention facilities. He said the utilization to help migrants rather than veterans “is unacceptable and dishonors” his state’s veterans.

Sanctuary cities, including Chicago and New York City, have had to convert public places such as schools and hotels to house illegal migrants flooding into the cities through Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s busing program.

Over 33,000 illegal migrants have entered New York City as of January 2024, CNN reported. Over 35,000 have arrived in Chicago as of late January, according to ABC 7. Democratic New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in September that the migrant crisis will “destroy” his city after it had been projected that the city would spend $12 billion on the crisis over a three-year timespan.