Friday, September 11, 2009

Some Common Sense on the Undocumented and Health Care

The rude interruption of a South Carolina representative during President Barack Obama's speech on health insurance reform has embarrassed the GOP and knocked them off their argument, The incident seems to have quieted the discussion around the eligibility of undocumented workers for federal support in health care reform. The New York Times addressed the issue "with common sense" in an editorial, but the issue must go beyond "common sense". The president shifted the discussion to moral and political grounds. Politically, it's not wise to advocate for benefits to those Illegally here. But I don't think you can argue that morally. While the Catholic bishops don't highlight care for the undocumented, by implication they believe some minimal benefits beyond caring for the undocumented in emergency rooms or allowing to purchase private insurance is not enough. Health care is not just an American right, but a human right. While it's not politic to bring up the issue at this time, any successful reform will eventually have to face up to care for all -- even those here illegally. Pragmatically it cost issue. Now much of the costs are swallowed by private medical providers who truly believe health care is a right for all. We don't know yet how reform will impinge on their charitable efforts. Even some counties and municipalities use their own tax dollars to provide a modicum of care with no questions asked. Other developed economies often provide health care even to visitors. (I had an in-grown and infected toe nail care -- gratis and with any fuss -- in England and Germany. Excluding the undocumented -- while good politics now -- will eventually have to be dealt with. And it will have to be more than just emergency-room care. Rep. Wilson, if for the wrong reasons, was on to something.

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