Congressman Joe Wilson's battle cry woke everyone up when he screamed at President Obama during a speech saying that Obama lied when talking about undocumented immigrants and health care.
Coverage Question Is Complex, Experts Say, but Less Ominous Than Reform Foes Warn
Friday, September 11, 2009
Republican Rep. Joe Wilson's shout of "You lie!" during President Obama's speech Wednesday night brought renewed attention to swirling questions about whether Democratic health-care legislation would extend coverage to illegal immigrants. Although the answer is more complicated than reform proponents acknowledge, it also does not square with the dark warnings of opponents who say the proposals would bring waves of undocumented immigrants into taxpayer-funded plans.
To counter claims that universal health care would cover illegal immigrants, Democrats and independent arbiters have pointed to language in the House legislation that says the federal subsidies, or "affordability credits," that would be the main avenue to expanding coverage would not be available to illegal immigrants.
This language does not assuage the bill's critics, who say the proposals lack the verification tools needed to assure that illegal immigrants do not gain coverage either through federal credits or expanded Medicaid eligibility for the poorest of the uninsured.
House Republicans have proposed amendments to close potential loopholes, but those measures have so far failed in committee. House Democrats say that the stricter rules could prevent eligible people from getting coverage and that eligibility regulations would be drawn up by federal officials. The bill's opponents say such a process would be inadequate.
"The other side appears to be saying, 'Trust us, [the government] will do the right thing.' Well, the trust issue is the core problem in immigration -- the political class is telling the public, 'We'll do the right thing,' and the public doesn't believe them," said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for stricter immigration policy.
But many tax and social policy experts say the concerns over undocumented immigrants taking advantage of health-care reform are overstated, if not unfounded. The thorniest immigration issue, they say, may be sorting out how subsidies or Medicaid eligibility would work in families with both legal and illegal residents.
"Will some illegal immigrant get [help]? Probably. Will it be this big problem? Probably not," said Gerald Prante, an economist with the nonpartisan Tax Foundation...link to complete WP article