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Healthcare And Illegal Immigrants: Why The Confusion?

“I don’t know what could be more clear,” said Representative Bruce Braley, Democrat of Iowa, who has read aloud from a section of the House bill with the title “No Federal Payments for Undocumented Aliens.”

Heath Care Debate Revives Immigration Battle,”
New York Times, 6 Sep 2009

From House Bill 3200, page 143:

5 Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments
6 for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are
7 not lawfully present in the United States.

* * *

Taxpayers are concerned whether they will have to foot the bill for illegal aliens in the upcoming health care bill. Many ask good questions, like how will health care workers know who’s an illegal alien? If they are included, how will it be paid for? These are important questions that we would hope could be dealt with squarely, openly and with full transparency.

But this is a sensitive topic for Congressmen interested in securing reelection.

During the summer recess, many Congressmen were barraged by questions to this effect. So it was interesting reading this New York Times piece this morning on whether illegal aliens will be covered under the new health care plan before Congress. On one hand we have Congressmen placating his constituents by assuring voters that “I don’t know how it could be more clear” as they suggest taxpayers will not fund illegal aliens, but careful inspection discloses that illegal aliens will just not be eligible for federal subsidies to reduce their payments for federally-supplied health insurance.

But from here, it gets even more byzantine:

… the report finds that the House bill would not prohibit illegal immigrants from enrolling in a health insurance exchange. The exchange would allow participants to buy coverage from one of several plans, including a public option offered by the federal government.

At the same time, illegal immigrants would not be exempt from the obligations in the House bill. According to the research service, most illegal immigrants in the country would be required to buy health insurance or face tax penalties.

And since they would be barred from subsidies, they would have to pay for coverage at full rates, regardless of their income level.

So here we have illegal aliens, already strapped for cash, paying their “full payment” and if they don’t, the tax man will come after them (which is confusing to me, because I didn’t know that illegal aliens pay taxes).

So what is wrong with the public? How could they possibly be confused?

Here’s a thought: the only real way out of these shameful machinations is to deal with the immigration and health care issue separately, incrementally, and without this shell game. Doesn’t the American public deserve a more thorough discussion of this issue, rather than shoving it in to our upcoming health care legislation?

My personal sense of it is that such an issue will never be decided at the Emergency Room door. Rather, it is part of a systemic immigration control and reform question that involves our borders, employee verification, and a decision about existing illegal immigrants.

What we’re observing instead, is a Congress is too scared to deal with this issue honestly.

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

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