POLIZETTE — From a different county? Get out. A different country? Welcome!
If you are poor and uninsured in Maryland’s largest county, there is a health clinic that will treat your stomach ache — even if you broke immigration laws to come to America.
Don’t try sneaking into one of Montgomery County’s 34 clinics if you are an American citizen from neighboring Frederick County, however. The low-income health program is for Montgomery residents only — and administrators require patients to produce one of nine different forms of identification as proof of address.
That bit of irony is not uncommon. According to a survey by the Wall Street Journal, 20 of the 25 U.S. counties with the largest populations of illegal immigrants do not consider legal status when assessing eligibility for subsidized health care. But most enforce residency requirements.
“A veteran who can’t quite meet the residence requirement is out of luck,” said Steven Camarota, director of research at the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies. “But if you’re not even supposed to be in the country, that’s OK.”
It is one of the many examples of illegal immigrants getting subsidized and even free medical care despite their status as illegal immigrants. Sometimes, it is the result of fraud or bureaucratic incompetence. In February, a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee report estimated that the government had spent more than $750 million as of June 2015 on tax credits for people who could not verify their citizenship or legal immigration status.