Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Push Back on Immigration Restriction in Health Care

Before Joe Wilson's outburst on the floor of Congress, most immigration advocates had seemingly accepted the exclusion of the undocumented from health care reform -- at least in so far as government payments or subsidies. But in an effort to quell nativists' suspicions that aid to the "illegals" will sneak into a government-run public option, President Barack Obama extended his exclusion to even banning the undocumented from the proposed insurance exchanges -- even when they out of their own pockets. That was too much for many Democrats and immigration activists. They are now organizing to make sure the Obama administration cannot automatically count on their votes. Their point is that it is not "a reward for breaking the law" in paying for something out of your own pocket. As it is, the undocumented underutilize the health system and in the insurance exchanges their money would be a wind-fall for the insurance companies. Immigrants are younger than the general population and so less of a risk for insurers. Also they tend to be more reliable when taking on financial obligations. But Obama's scruple seems to be a last straw for many immigration advocates and Democrats. (See Los Angeles Times article.)

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