Saturday, August 15, 2009

Health care shorts:
What about immigrants?

For people who care about democracy, it ought to be axiomatic that we don't create two- (or more) classes of persons. If you haven't committed a crime, and you are part of this country, you are part of this country. If you are a citizen, you are a citizen, with the same rights and responsibility as anyone else. Pretty simple, really.

The current health care discussion uncovers too many instances in which we don't seem to know that.

  • Item: Massachusetts has made an effort to cover all its residents with health insurance. But at present, as the recession cuts state tax receipts, it is running into the failure of the federal government to reimburse it for covering all residents. So 30000 legal immigrant residents have begun receiving letters informing them that their state-subsidized health insurance is ending Aug. 31.
  • Item: naturally, the nativist faction in politics think this is just fine. They want to write a provision into the health reform bill that would exclude future legal immigrants from whatever emerges from Congress. Adam Serwer points out who would be victimized by such a provision:

    Why would an employer hire an American citizen, for whom he will have to provide health coverage, when he could instead hire a perfectly legal new resident, who is exempt from health insurance mandates?

    That's right -- low income folks who are current citizens will be discriminated against if nativists succeed in creating a two-tier health reform.
Of course any sane health reform would cover anyone in the country, regardless of citizenship. The Brits do. What's wrong with us? More haters? More fearful people? I sure hope the people of this country are not so weak as to go for this. We not only hurt the direct victims; we hurt ourselves when we construct complicated exclusions.

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