Health care and immigration: a continuous debate

Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives are equally stumped about tackling health care for the 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. As a big topic in the immigration reform debate, this subject will continue to cause heated arguments between Democrats and Republicans. On one end, Republicans do not want immigrants to have access to health benefits from their local and federal governments. They want immigrants to purchase their own health care plans, which could be extremely pricey. Democrats, realizing the costs of private health plans, said that they shouldn’t hold immigrants responsible for getting their own care.

“The 11 million shouldn’t be eligible for health care subsidies,” Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, told U.S. News & World Report. “They shouldn’t be eligible for any subsidies at all. That was the agreement that they had before I was even a member of the group.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, House members want to ensure that immigrants are excluded from the tax subsidies that help U.S. citizens gain insurance coverage for health care laws. The bipartisan “Gang of Eight” legislation also highlights this rule in the bill. However, The House and Senate will allow immigrants to participate in health exchanges. These will be available next year to sell policies to Americans who are not offered health care coverage through their employers.

Regardless, members argue that immigrants will have to pay out-of-pocket fees for emergency care, which in turn will cover some financial wariness both parties have over the debate in question. Still, Democrats feel that requiring all citizens to have health care plans would ultimately lower costs.

“They still show up in the emergency rooms and the hospitals have to pay for them,” Tevi Troy, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and former deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told U.S. News & World Report.