The hidden link between health care reform and immigration

If immigrants grab a disproportionate share of the subsidies of health care reform, opposition to immigration will rise.

M. Spencer Green/AP/File
Yolanda Abila held a sign at a November rally in Chicago to celebrate the one-year anniversary of President Obama's election. Supporters signed giant letters encouraging the president to work for change in health care, immigration reform, and other progressive issues.

Will the Obama Health legislation increase political opposition to immigration? I see an expansion of coverage for 30 million people in the United States.

This must be an income transfer to this group and this means that taxpayers will cover this. Now, I do hope that preventative medicine will reduce this group's demand for costly emergency care but I do not know of a NBER quality health economics paper carefully documenting this optimistic claim.

Let's assume that the expansion of health care insurance coverage for the uninsured is an income transfer. If immigrants are over-represented in this group (or if this is even perceived to be true), will political opposition to immigration rise? The economics literature on the determinants of redistribution would say yes.

Read the Alesina and Glaeser book. If you don't have time to read that, then read this . The ugly fact that emerges is that we are not generous when the recipients "look different" than us.

Now, how big of a tax price will we collectively face because of this legislation? The CBO doesn't know the answer to this and I don't believe a word of the "scoring" that they do. Health economists will have plenty to do over the next couple of years.

Now, I am a full fan of immigration. In previous blog posts, I have argued that the U.S should auction off 3 million passports a year.

What is the core logic here? Immigrants tend to be poorer than average and younger than average. These groups are over-represented among those who don't have health insurance. Friends of Fox News have already noted this fact .

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