Wingnuts don’t seem to realize they’re already paying for the health care of illegal aliens. Every time an uninsured or underinsured person gets treatment in an emergency room and can’t pay the bill, the cost is added to everyone else’s bill, and to insurance premiums. As far as I know, ERs are not turning people away who can’t prove citizenship.
But, shhhh, keep this entre nous. If this gets called to wingnut attention they’ll demand that ERs get proof of citizenship before they treat anyone. None of us will dare leave home without our passports, never mind our insurance cards. Sorry about your Grandma. We couldn’t treat her because we weren’t sure she was a citizen.
After Wednesday night’s heckling the Super Weasel team of Senators Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Max Baucus (D-MT) hustled to do Rep. Joe Wilson’s bidding and close an imaginary loophole in the health care proposal. No one is proposing that any subsidies go to illegal aliens (see “Read the Bill“). But now Baucus and Conrad want to prevent illegal aliens from buying health insurance on the individual market with their own money.
This will have a direct cost to taxpayers since some verification mechanism will need to be put into place. It will also have an indirect cost to you and me and everyone we knowâ€”the vast majority of people, after all, arenâ€™t undocumented immigrants but weâ€™re all going to need to go through a citizenship check hassle before we buy health insurance. It will probably also make average premiums higher, since the exchanges will be left with a smaller risk pool and thereâ€™s no real reason to believe that the subset of undocumented immigrants who are capable of affording an unsubsidized insurance policy are below-average health risks. Last, of course, this will make the undocumented immigrant population sicker with negative public health consequences for their coworkers, friends, family, and the customers of the businesses they walk at.
There’s an old saying, “cutting off the nose to spite the face.” It refers to doing something for revenge or spitefulness that is really self-destructive. This describes the Right’s attitudes toward health care reform. Apparently it’s more important to punish illegal aliens than to provide health care for ourselves. Better to let 18,000 Americans die every year for lack of health care than to allow illegal aliens use the proposed exchanges to buy insurance with their own money. And you know if there are subsidies some illegal aliens will be able to scam the system; better to drive tens of thousands of Americans into medical bankruptcy than to let some illegal aliens have a few crumbs of benefits.
And let’s not even think about making sure agricultural and food service workers get flu shots. Epidemics are a small price to pay to be sure people aren’t getting benefits they don’t deserve. It’s a moral thing, see.