Published August 15, 2011
The South Carolina congressman was pilloried in 2009 for shouting "You lie!" at the president in the middle of a national address after Obama claimed the health care bill would not cover illegal immigrants.
But Wilson is claiming some vindication after the Health and Human Services Department awarded millions to "migrant and seasonal farm worker" health care -- a spokeswoman in the department was cited last week saying patients would not be asked about immigration status and a department official confirmed Monday that the centers receiving the grant money must offer primary care to "all residents" in a given area.
Wilson, on his campaign website, declared the funding announcement proved him right. Though most farm workers are here legally, the Pew Hispanic Center estimates that about a quarter of them are undocumented.
"It is inevitable that they will serve illegal aliens," Wilson said. "The president specifically promised the American people that 'Obamacare' would not cover those who are here illegally. He misled all of us."
Wilson then appealed to donors to contribute to his campaign, claiming they need "proven conservative leaders" like him in Congress to repeal the health care law entirely. Nobody on the Democratic side has yet filed to run against Wilson in 2012, though state Democratic Party Acting Director Amanda Loveday said party officials are "in conversation" with a couple potential candidates.
In his campaign appeal, the South Carolina incumbent was notably less contrite than he was in September 2009, when he apologized directly to the White House for his outburst during Obama's speech. He was later formally rebuked by the House for breaching congressional decorum.
His charges then and now stemmed from concerns that the health care overhaul lacked adequate verification standards for determining the legal status of applicants, despite Democratic claims that it would not cover illegal immigrants.
Wilson specifically seized on a report last week on CNSNews.com saying $8.5 million in funding would go toward health centers serving farm workers.
But Health and Human Services spokesman Chris Stenrud stressed that the recipients of the grant money would not be giving away health care completely free of charge. Plus those health centers have been around for decades.
"By statute, health centers are required to provide primary health care to all residents of the health center's service area without regard for ability to pay. However, health centers do not provide free care. All health center patients are expected to contribute to the cost of their care," he told FoxNews.com in an email, noting that patients with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level pay on a sliding scale.
The grants announced last week were part of $29 million in funding for community health centers. The centers are meant to provide care for low-income and underserved communities. Stenrud confirmed that $8.5 million of that would go toward 28 centers that serve farm workers.
The funding, authorized by the health care overhaul, is meant to help nearly 290,000 additional patients, according to the health department.
"We are removing barriers that stand in the way of affordable and accessible primary health services," Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a written statement last week.