The Obama Plan and healthcare coverage of illegal immigrants

By Sarah Costello

Sept. 20, 2009


The White House has taken a firmer stance on health care coverage of illegal immigrants following Congressman Joe Wilson’s objection of “you lie!” during a joint session of Congress Sept. 9. after President Barack Obama stated the proposed health care bill would not cover illegal immigrants.

While Wilson’s comments elicited controversy and debate between both sides of the political aisle, his statement encouraged excessive media coverage and renewed study of the bill by Democrats and Republicans alike.

Hours after Obama’s speech, “The Obama Plan” was posted on, explaining what the proposed bill will cover, whom it will cover and how it will cover Americans.

The current debacle concerning the bill revolves around the only available public bill, H.R. 3200, which did not offer a definite explanation of illegal immigrants and health insurance coverage.

The Obama administration claims the president was referring to his proposal during his prime time speech and not H.R. 3200, but the renewed legislation has not been sent to Capitol Hill, adding to controversy and confusion.

Democrats have directed opposing factors to the current legislation that they claim will not allow illegal immigrants to access federal subsidies that low-income American citizens will qualify for, which would enable them to purchase health insurance.

On Sept. 11, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs presented stricter policies regarding health care coverage for illegal immigrants.

“Illegal immigrants would not be allowed to access the exchange that is set up,” said Gibbs.

Under the current health care system, illegal immigrants can purchase private insurance but are not allowed to access government-funded care. Under the new bill, illegal immigrants will not be given the option to purchase private insurance, a move that has many left-winged democrats and Latino coalitions in an uproar.

Image courtesy of Stop the North American Union

Image courtesy of Stop the North American Union

In fact, thousands of Latinos and blacks gathered on Sept. 9 in San Antonio to push for government-run health care. The League of United Latin American Citizens, the largest Latino civil rights organization in the U.S., met to support Obama and his proposed public option.

Many Republicans argue that illegal immigrants should not have health care coverage due to violation of set laws that forbid immigrants from entering the U.S. without proper documentation. Others are not as stringent and argue illegal immigrants are entitled to health care if given amnesty.

“If amnesty is approved through the amnesty bill then people who are current illegal [immigrants] will be legal and will be covered by the bill,” said George Padgett, a professor of media law and ethics at Elon University. “Personally, I stand on the side of being understanding and concerned about my fellow human beings regardless of who they are.”

Others view the health care coverage a matter of principle and argue that people who are living in the U.S. illegally are not entitled to health care and should not be given the benefits paid for by the government or taxes.

“I think Congress has a duty to uphold the laws of this country, which clearly prohibit illegal immigration,” said junior Nicholas Ochsner, the executive director of College Republicans. “We’re going to see an even bigger drain on the health care system if we extend health coverage to illegal immigrants.”


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