Healthcare and immigration converge explosively
Two hot-button issues are converging to crank the political dial way past “riled-up” – healthcare reform and immigration.Skip to next paragraph
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President Obama and Democratic supporters of health insurance legislation insist that bills now being considered exclude illegal immigrants from any coverage. Their opponents’ response boils down to “Oh, yeah?” As with many such disputes, it’s unlikely that agreement will be reached, even if substantial reform legislation is passed into law – by no means a certainty.
For one thing, nobody knows for sure how many illegal immigrants are in the United States or how many of those have received medical treatment at public expense. Neither the US Census Bureau nor hospitals ask about citizenship status.
But the Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 6.8 million uninsured adults and children are in the United States illegally.
More recently, the Center for Immigration Studies (a nonpartisan research organization “which seeks fewer immigrants but a warmer welcome for those admitted”) reported that the portion of immigrants (legal and illegal) without health insurance is more than twice as high as for native-born Americans.
“The high level of uninsurance among immigrants is partly explained by the large share who have low levels of education. This means they often have jobs that do not provide insurance. Moreover, their lower incomes often make insurance unaffordable,” CIS reports. The organization sponsored a panel discussion on healthcare and immigration last week. It’s still available on video.
When he was a guest on Michael Smerconish’s radio show last week, President Obama was adamant on the subject.
“None of the bills that have been voted on in Congress, and none of the proposals coming out of the White House propose giving coverage to illegal immigrants – none of them,” he said. “That has never been on the table; nobody has discussed it. So everybody who is listening out there, when you start hearing that somehow this is all designed to provide health insurance to illegal immigrants, that is simply not true and has never been the case.”