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Much has already been written on this blog regarding this topic (here and here). As a quick round up, the House recently passed a health care reform bill that does not disallow undocumented immigrants from participating in the program using their own money. Senate politics is an entirely different matter with exclusion of undocumented immigrants and citizenship verification making its way into the bill.
The White House is adamant that immigrants without legal status should just buy private health insurance outside the exchange. But it is unlikely that such a market for purchase of individual plans would exist after the implementation of the exchange and even if it does, the costs may be more unaffordable than they are now.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t just want to exclude undocumented immigrants. He also has little regard for legal immigrants and does not believe they are entitled to health care reform:
I think most Americans feel that this government program ought to be limited to those of us who are citizens. And we are reading through the bill to see whether that was in fact achieved. For that to be achieved, obviously there has to be some way to verify that you are a citizen. And we’ll have more to say about that later after we’re sort of clear on what effort was made in here to guarantee that whatever benefits are available are only given to American citizens.
(Senator McConell, Text from Press Conference, Nov 23)
It’s absurd to not allow people, regardless of legal status, to not purchase their own health care on the new health exchange. This ill-advised xenophobic move actually makes health care more costly for all Americans. Simple economics tells us that the more people who buy on the exchange market, the more competitive the prices, driving down overall costs. Disallowing undocumented immigrants from purchasing health care on the exchange also drives up the cost of health care given private health insurance is bound to be more costly and the government would still need to cover emergency room expenditures.
Be on the side of common-sense. Take action now by signing a petition to your elected officials to allow undocumented immigrants to purchase health care.
(Photo Credit: SEIU Flickr photostream)