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Hispanic Caucus Troubled by Health Provision on Undocumented Immigrants

Hispanic Business, News Report, Rob Kuznia Posted: Nov 21, 2009

Hispanic lawmakers in Washington are blaming the political fallout over a Republican Congressman's infamous outburst in September for the provision in the newly proposed Senate health care bill seeking to block participation of illegal immigrants.

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus say the Obama administration has become overly cautious since Rep. Joe Wilson of North Carolina shouted "you lie!" during Obama's Sept. 10 address on healthcare reform, according to Politico. Obama had just mentioned that contrary to what some are saying, health care reform would not provide insurance for illegal immigrants.

Although the decorum-defying utterance led to a formal rebuke of Wilson by the House, some say it also has caused the White House to toughen its stance on illegal immigration.

At issue is not whether to allow illegal immigrants to receive federal subsides for health insurance -- most lawmakers of all stripes agree that that is off the table.

Instead, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus are upset that the proposed Senate bill would prevent illegal immigrants from buying insurance from an exchange that would be created for people who don't receive health insurance from their employers.

The House's version of the health bill, passed in late October, contains no such prohibition.

"Why create a situation where someone cannot spend their own money?" an aide to a member of the CHC told HispanicBusiness.com, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Isn't that sort of anti-capitalist?"

A health care exchange is essentially a large pool of people that contracts with insurers to lower risk and therefore reduce the premiums of the customers.

Hispanic lawmakers are also singling out Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, as another roadblock to access for illegal immigrants, telling Politico that he believes immigration reform is a threat to Democrats.

Caucus members say the provision will actually be worse for taxpayers in the end, because it will do nothing to stem the tide of uninsured illegal immigrants who seek medical care through the emergency room. By law, hospitals cannot turn emergency-room patients away.

Related Articles:

New America Now: Health Care Special

America's House of Lords Debates Health Care

Five Years is a Lifetime to Wait for Affordable Health Care

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