Last week, CBS’s Katie Couric interviewed President Barack Obama on issues addressing immigrant health care reform in the U.S. When asked whether undocumented immigrants should be covered under a new health plan, Obama disagreed, except for one exception.
“If you’ve got children who may be here illegally but are still in playgrounds or at schools, and potentially are passing on illnesses and communicable diseases that aren’t getting vaccinated, that I think is a situation where you may have to make an exception.”
It is irrational to make an exception for undocumented children and not for undocumented adults. It must be taken under consideration that children are not the only ones who may be passing on illnesses and diseases. Undocumented adults interact with citizens all the time–in gas stations, restaurants, churches, hospitals, public transportation, taxis, schools, offices, marketplaces and gyms on a daily basis, for example. It has been shown that these adults, who lack of health insurance, are forced to use emergency health services, or nothing at all. This makes no sense economically.
Anti-immigrant activists oppose covering undocumented immigrants in any public health care bill because they claim that it might lure more immigrants to the U.S. who will “take advantage” of health care benefits. President Obama is feeling the heat to fulfill the mandate of the voters who put him in office and wants to take action before his August deadline.
“We’re not going to cover undocumented workers,” said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, “That’s too politically explosive.”
What would be unfortunate–and has the potential to be truly explosive in the long run, for the U.S.–would be to provide health insurance for undocumented children, but not their parents. Clearly there are many American-born children with undocumented parents who suffer from a lack of health insurance coverage.
American citizens are not the only individuals living in the U.S., and undocumented immigrants who live in the U.S., pay taxes and contribute to our economy. They deserve and depend on health care as much as American citizens–47 million of whom also lack coverage. In fact, health care should be considered a human right–not a “privilege.”
At the White House press conference, President Obama acknowledged that “We spend more on health care than any other nation. We must rebuild the economy stronger than before, and health care reform is central to that effort.”
He is completely right about this.
If we want to rebuild our economy, immigration reform is just as important.