Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 11 CH 08344 Honorable LeRoy K. Martin, Jr., Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Epstein
PRESIDING JUSTICE EPSTEIN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices McBride and Howse concurred in the judgment and opinion.*fn1
¶ 1 Plaintiff Donald Kaider appeals from the circuit court's denial of
his petition for leave to file a taxpayer's suit to enjoin the
disbursement of state funds under section 11-303 of the Code of Civil
Procedure (735 ILCS 5/11-303 (West 2008)). In his proposed complaint,
plaintiff seeks to enjoin the provision of health benefits to pregnant
women and children who are not lawfully present in the United States
under two state programs, "All Kids" and "Moms & Babies." Plaintiff
argues that providing benefits to pregnant women and children who are
present in the United States is prohibited by 8 U.S.C. §
1621(a), enacted as part of the Personal Responsibility and Work
Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (Pub. L. No. 104-193, 110 Stat.
2105 (1996)), which generally bars states from extending "any State or
local public benefit" to aliens "not lawfully present in the United
States." 8 U.S.C. § 1621(a), (d) (2006). Defendants respond that the
Illinois General Assembly opted out of the benefits bar pursuant to 8
U.S.C. § 1621(d), which allows a state to provide benefits to unlawful
aliens*fn2 "through the enactment of a State law after
August 22, 1996, which affirmatively provides for such eligibility."
The circuit court agreed with defendants, finding that the General
Assembly opted out of section 1621(a) pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1621(d).
For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
¶ 3 Plaintiff filed his petition for leave to file a taxpayer suit in
the circuit court against several state officials who are responsible
for disbursing, maintaining, and securing state funds: Julie Hamos,
Director of the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services;
Michelle R. B. Saddler, Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human
Services; Dan Rutherford, Illinois State Treasurer; and Judy Baar
Topinka, Illinois State Comptroller.Plaintiff challenged the use of
state funds under two healthcare benefits programs: the All Kids
health insurance program, part of the Covering ALL KIDS Health
Insurance Act (All Kids Act) (215 ILCS 170/1 to 99 (West
2008)), and the Moms & Babies program, authorized under
sections 1-11 and 12-4.35 of the Illinois Public Aid Code (305 ILCS
5/1-1, 12-4.35 (West 2008)).
¶ 4 At this stage, we take all well-pled facts in the taxpayer complaint as true (Daly v. County of Madison, 378 Ill. 357, 359 (1941)), though here the relevant facts-describing the operation of the programs at issue-are not in dispute. The All Kids and Moms & Babies programs are an outgrowth of Illinois's Medicaid program and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provide medical assistance to low income children and their families. To be eligible for Medicaid, recipients generally must earn income of no more than 133% of the federal poverty guidelines (see 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(l)(2)(B) (2006)) and must be citizens or otherwise fall within several categories of lawful aliens (42 U.S.C. § 1396b(v)(1) (2006); 305 ILCS 5/1-11 (West 2008)). In 1998, the General Assembly created CHIP, which supplements Illinois's Medicaid program by providing health insurance coverage to children of families earning between 133% and 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. See 215 ILCS 106/20(a)(2) (West 2008). Similar to the Medicaid program, CHIP limits benefits to United States citizens and several categories of lawfully resident aliens. 215 ILCS 106/20(a)(3), (a)(4) (West 2008).
¶ 5 The Moms & Babies and All Kids programs are administered through a single application by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (Department). The Moms & Babies program provides benefits for pregnant women and their babies, including the mother's outpatient and inpatient hospital services during pregnancy and for 60 days after the baby is born. See http://www.allkids.com/pregnant.html (referenced in plaintiff's proposed complaint). The family income limit for Moms & Babies is 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. Id. The recipient mother does not need to be a United States citizen or legal alien to receive benefits under the program. Id. The All Kids program offers uninsured children subsidized health insurance that covers immunizations, doctor visits, hospital stays, and prescription drugs. See 215 ILCS 170/1 (West 2008). The Department is required to coordinate the All Kids program with existing health programs (see 215 ILCS 170/15 (West 2008)), though the All Kids Act extends coverage to children of families earning between 200% and 300% of the federal poverty guidelines. 215 ILCS 170/20(a) (West 2008). The All Kids Act places no limits on the receipt of benefits by unlawful aliens.
¶ 6 In his proposed complaint, plaintiff alleges, and defendants do not dispute, that pregnant women and children without lawful immigration status receive benefits under the Moms & Babies and All Kids programs. While plaintiff argued in the circuit court that extending medical services to unlawful aliens under the Moms & Babies and All Kids violates 8 U.S.C. § 1621(a), which generally bars unlawful aliens from receiving state or local public benefits, the circuit court disagreed. The court denied plaintiff's petition to file the proposed complaint, finding that there was no reasonable ground for the filing of such action because the statutes authorizing the Moms & Babies and All Kids programs "affirmatively provide" for the extension of benefits to unlawful aliens, as required by 8 U.S.C. § 1621(d). This appeal followed.
¶ 8 On appeal, plaintiff again argues that the Illinois statutes authorizing the All Kids and Moms & Babies programs violate 8 U.S.C. § 1621(a)-and do not satisfy the requirements of 8 U.S.C. § 1621(d)-because the Illinois statutes do not affirmatively provide that unlawful aliens are eligible for state medical benefits. Alternatively, plaintiff contends that the Illinois statutes are preempted by federal law. Under section 11-303 of the Code of Civil Procedure, a circuit court may deny leave to file the complaint if the court is not "satisfied that there is reasonable ground for the filing of such action." 735 ILCS 5/11-303 (West 2008). Plaintiff asserts, and defendants do not contest, that if the All Kids or Moms & Babies programs violate federal law (or are preempted by federal law), those programs would constitute a misuse of public funds under section 11-303. See Scachitti v. UBS Financial Services, 215 Ill. 2d 484, 493-94 (2005) ("It has long been the rule in Illinois that citizens and taxpayers have a right to enjoin the misuse of public funds ***. The misuse of these funds for illegal or unconstitutional purposes is a damage which entitles them to sue."). The parties also agree that in this case compliance with this standard depends on whether the state laws at issue comply with the 8 U.S.C. § 1621(d), which in turn depends on our construction of that statute's language. This court reviews questions of statutory construction de novo. Citizens Opposing Pollution v. ExxonMobil Coal U.S.A., 2012 IL 111286, ¶ 23. We may affirm the circuit court's judgment on any ground supported by the record. Eychaner v. Gross, 202 Ill. 2d 228, 262 (2002).
¶ 10 Section 1621 was enacted as part of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRA). Pub. L. No. 104-193, § 411, 110 Stat. 2105 (1996). "The PRA creates a comprehensive statutory scheme for determining aliens' eligibility for federal, state and local benefits and services. It categorizes all aliens as 'qualified' or not 'qualified' and then denies public benefits based on that categorization." League of United Latin American Citizens v. Wilson, 997 F. Supp. 1244, 1251-52 (C.D. Cal. 1997). As relevant here, the PRA establishes a general prohibition against extending state and local benefits to aliens who are not lawfully present in the United States:
"Notwithstanding any other provision of law and except as provided in subsections (b) and (d) of this ...