A Rebuttal to Holly Johnson:
One is used to differences of opinion on The Tennessean’s editorial pages, but I don’t think I have ever seen a wider divergence of “facts” on display then the point/counterpoint pieces on refugee resettlement in Tennessee (“Topic of the Day”, 9/13/2011).
According to one writer, welfare dependence among refugees is “staggering” and is being paid for by the taxpayer – both federal and state. According to the other writer, who holds an official state office, refugees “are financially self-sufficient within a few months and are not dependent on public welfare”. Also “Tennessee does not provide funding for refugee resettlement within its borders”.
I would be inclined to go with the state official, but a federal government report, DHHS Office of Refugee Resettlement Annual Report to Congress 2008 - latest data available, suggests that almost 45% of refugees aged 16 and over who arrived from 2003 to 2008 are on Medicaid (TennCare) or Refugee Medical Assistance a short-term assistance program that only covers the first 8 months in the country. Including children under 16 would increase the percent of those on medical assistance. (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/data/ORR_Annual_Report_FY_2008.pdf-page 92).
According to the report, all welfare programs are used at very high rates by this group.
The Tennessee taxpayer pays about 35 % of the cost for TennCare.
Further, according to the same report "Overall, 22.9 percent of adult refugees in the 2008 survey lacked medical coverage of any kind throughout the year preceding the survey" (page 89). This group often gets emergency room medical care, for which hospitals take from the Tennessee Rainy Day Fund.
Is it true that there is no cost to the state for refugees who are “financially self-sufficient within a few months”?