Monday, September 14, 2009

Legislative Update on Immigration and Health Care

James Oliphant, David G. Savage, and Teresa Watanabe of the Los Angeles Times have written an article on immigration issues and health care reform that is well worth taking a look at. You may have been wondering why I haven't mentioned the "You lie" episode during President Obama's speech on health care reform the other day. Not wanting to contribute to the viral hype across blogs on this outburst, I held back. I consider it much more important to focus on the content of Obama's address to Congress than the drama surrounding it. However, I encourage you to read this LA Times article, which addresses the question of undocumented immigrants in health care reform in a calmer manner.

As it stands right now, a public health care coverage option would not entitle undocumented immigrants to receive publicly funded health insurance. This is one of the most widespread myths that anti-immigration groups are spreading around the country. None of the current plans in Congress would permit undocumented immigrants to access public funds for health care. Undocumented immigrants can only receive some forms of emergency care (and this provision will remain unchanged during health care reform).

President Obama's statement on undocumented immigrants during his address to Congress was correct, in that Section 246 of the House bill on health care states: "Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States." The legislation on the table excludes undocumented immigrants from being eligible for affordability credits.

In addition, we've just heard that there is also language in the legislation that would prohibit undocumented immigrants from buying into the health care insurance exchange. Right now, anti-immigrant groups are arguing that there is no way a policy like that could be enforced, so they are urging Congress to put forward a verification system. However, as the LA Times article says, verification systems of this sort may end up hurting U.S. citizens as much or more than undocumented immigrants. Not everyone who is a U.S. citizen can readily prove their citizenship status.

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.