The immigration bill passed by the Senate Thursday afternoon would give some employers a financial incentive to employ "registered provisional immigrants" (illegal immigrants granted legal status) instead of U.S. citizens.
As the Washington Examiner's Philip Klein recently reported: "Under Obamacare, businesses with over 50 workers that employ American citizens without offering them qualifying health insurance could be subject to fines of up to $3,000 per worker. But because newly legalized immigrants wouldn’t be eligible for subsidies on the Obamacare exchanges until after they become citizens – at least 13 years under the Senate bill – businesses could avoid such fines by hiring the new immigrants instead."
On Tuesday, THE WEEKLY STANDARD asked five U.S. senators about this problem, and none of them knew if it was a problem. "We're trying to solve that right now. I don't know if that's been solved," Senator Max Baucus of Montana (chief author of Obamacare) told THE WEEKLY STANDARD.
"I don't know. I'd have to look at it closely," said Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. "I just haven't read it that closely to know."
As The New Republic, Investors' Business Daily, and the Washington Examiner have all reported, this problem certainly does exist, and the bill was never amended to fix the problem before it was passed by the Senate on a 68-32 vote Thursday afternoon. "[Registered provisional immigrants] are not subject to mandate and the do not count towards an employer's penalty," Sean Neary, communications director for the Senate Finance Committee, told THE WEEKLY STANDARD in an email late Thursday night.