Critics: Free Health Care Means More Illegals
A recent Rasmussen Reports poll found that an overwhelming 80 percent of Americans oppose covering illegals in any public health care bill.
Anti-immigration activists say the availability of low-cost benefits, including health insurance and in-state tuition, will only lure more immigrants to come to the United States.
Political analyst Dick Morris, in his recently released best-selling book “Catastrophe”, warns that giving illegal free health care will lead to a flood of new illegals who can take advantage of such a benefit not offered in their home countries.
William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration, agrees with that sentiment, writing, "Each state and federal elected official must know that illegal aliens should not be given licenses, in-state tuition, mortgages, bank accounts, welfare, or any other benefit short of emergency medical care and law enforcement accommodations before they are deported."
But a small fraction of illegals end up deported, as many make widespread use of fake IDs to easily gain access to government benefits programs.
"Experts suggest that approximately 75 percent of working-age illegal aliens use fraudulent Social Security cards to obtain employment," wrote Ronald W. Mortensen in a recent Center for Immigration Studies research paper. Mortensen says one of the big misconceptions about illegals is that they are undocumented.
James R. Edwards Jr., co-author of The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform, recently wrote on National Review Online that "it's hard to envision how health reform can avoid tripping the immigration booby trap."
Edwards says none of the legislation under consideration actually requires any state, federal, or local agency to check the immigration status of those who apply for the program.
The assumption is that companies have vetted their employees to ensure they are eligibility for legal employment – a difficult task for employers given the active market in fraudulent documents. Thus Edwards maintains "some of the money distributed … inevitably would go to illegal aliens."
The estimates of illegal aliens in the United States without health insurance vary. The most commonly cited statistic, attributed to the Center for Immigration Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau, holds that 15 percent to 22 percent of the nation's 46 million uninsured are illegal aliens. That would be between 6.9 million and 10.1 million people. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama claimed the nation United States has 12 million or more undocumented aliens.
John Sheils of the Lewin Group, a health care consulting firm owned by UnitedHealth Group, recently told National Public Radio that about 6.1 million illegals – about half of all illegals in the United States – lack documentation and therefore would not be legally eligible for benefits under the current health care reforms.
Sheils says the other half of the nation's illegals – 5 million to 6 million – use false documents to obtain on-the-books employment. Many of them are already insured under their employers' plans, he added.
"A lot of those people are getting employer health benefits as part of their compensation," Sheils told NPR.
Certainly, some contend that undocumented workers who are gainfully employed and receiving benefits such as health insurance are contributing to society. But the fact remains that, once equipped with a fake ID, a person in the United States illegally can obtain both a job and the benefits that go with it.
Estimates of the cost of providing illegals with medical care vary. Most uninsured illegals who need medical attention obtain it from hospital emergency rooms. And several states are already straining under the huge burden of paying for the health costs of illegal aliens.
According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), in 2004 California's estimated cost of unreimbursed medical care was $1.4 billion. Texas estimated its cost at $850 million annually, and Arizona at $400 million.
Non-border states shoulder heavy burdens as well. Virginia's annual cost of providing health care for undocumented workers is approximately $100 million per year, FAIR reports, while Florida's health care cost is about $300 million annually.
One of the ironies of the proposed legislation is that it would fine American citizens who opt not to purchase insurance coverage, but would exempt illegals from such fines. This is presumably due to the fact that they are not supposed to participate in the program anyway.
Even if no illegals were likely to benefit from health care reform, Democrats have made it clear that amnesty is the next item on their ambitious legislative agenda.
"I've got to do health care, I've got to do energy, and then I'm looking very closely at doing immigration," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., declared in June.
We've got to get rid of Harry Reid!!!!!!
© Janet Crain
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