Efforts to Exclude Abortion From HCR Trumps Concern About Undocumented

By a vote of 220-215, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3962 (Affordable Health Care for America Act) with an anti-abortion amendment rather than adopting any anti-immigrant amendments or tort reforms from the GOP.

For some conservative Democrats and the GOP–appropriately identified by Representative Edward Markey as Grandstand Oppose Pretend party–veterans, working poor, women and undocumented immigrants are not a priority for health-care but the unborn have to be protected. Apparently, a fetus is the only category that cannot pull itself up by its bootstraps.

Representative Bart Stupak (D-MI) offered an anti-abortion amendment to the House health care bill last night as a compromise when 40 anti-abortion Democrats threatened to vote against the bill. According to Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), the amendment makes little sense since it prevents women who pay with their own money from getting a plan that covers reproductive care. For now, segments of the GOP and Bluedog Democrats have replaced their hatred of immigrants with their contempt of women and the right to choose. The amendment passed 240-194 with the help of 64 Democrats, making it next to impossible for low-income women who need abortion to afford health care in the United States.

Last month, Representative Luis Gutierrez (IL-4) blasted President Barack Obama for caving in to Joe ‘You Lie’ Wilson’s inappropriate screams, stating that not only would excluding undocumented immigrants from buying insurance on exchange put the brunt of health care costs on taxpayers, but undocumented immigrants who currently had private insurance could possibly lose coverage due to rising costs of private health insurance.

Currently, the Senate bill includes strict verification measures to ensure that undocumented immigrants can neither access health care subsidies nor buy them on the exchange even with their own money. H.R. 3962 denies undocumented immigrants affordability credits while allowing them the right to purchase health insurance on the exchange market with their own money.

However, this move also creates an unfunded mandate for undocumented immigrants. They may be required to purchase health insurance with their own funds. But the mandate does not come into effect until 2013 so it allows time for comprehensive immigration reform to pass and for undocumented to qualify for affordability credits.

Pelosi did state that young people up to the age of 27 would be covered under their parents so undocumented youth with legal resident and U.S. citizen parents might not need to worry about losing their health care coverage or footing the cost of unfunded mandates on their own.

Insiders say that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus feared that a procedural motion from the GOP might derail health care for both legal and undocumented immigrants.

Update: The GOP went with motion to recommit on tort reform rather than place an anti-immigrant provision. The motion was rejected as was the GOP “plan” for health care reform.

(Photo Credit: Open Democracy Flickr photostream CC Attribute)

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