Tales from the Trail

Healthcare reform may leave some legal migrants to U.S. in limbo

October 14, 2009

Immigration, particularly what to do with millions of illegal immigrants living in the shadows, has long been a divisive issue in the United States — so it comes as little surprise that undocumented migrants are excluded from benefits under President Barack Obama’s signature drive to overhaul healthcare.
 
But legislation to reform the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare system to cut costs, extend coverage and regulate insurers could also exclude more than a million legal permanent residents living, working and paying taxes in this country of immigrants from core benefits, according to a study published this month.
 
The report by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute said 4.2 million lawful permanent residents in the United States are uninsured. More than 1 million of them could be excluded from Medicaid coverage or insurance subsidies outlined in the bill — five versions of which are currently on Capitol Hill — if Congress does not remove a five-year waiting period for eligibility.
 
Congress is set to debate the legislation in coming weeks, and the prospects for the overhaul are far from certain. But if legal residents are denied eligibility for Medicaid and insurance subidies, yet are nevertheless subjected to mandates requiring them to buy health insurance coverage, the study concluded, many of them would face a “significant burden.”
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“Leaving large numbers of legal immigrants out of healthcare reform would defeat the core goal of the legislation, which is to extend coverage to the nation’s 46 million uninsured,” said MPI Senior Vice President Michael Fix, who co-authored the report.
 
The study also concluded that implementing verification systems to ensure that 12 million undocumented immigrants living and working in the United States do not receive benefits could prove expensive and may also discriminate against Americans.
 
“Document checks would be especially costly, and would have the biggest impact on U.S. citizens who cannot produce birth certificates or other forms of ID, leading to lost or delayed coverage,” said Marc Rosenblum, a co-author of the MPI study.
 
The measures denying undocumented immigrants benefits are likely to be welcomed by most Americans — one telephone survey in June found 80 percent of U.S. voters opposed providing government healthcare coverage to undocumented migrants. But activists say a bill that left many legal permanent residents in limbo would likely discourage some skilled migrants from seeking to move to the United States.
   
Aman Kapoor, the founder and president of advocacy group Immigration Voice said many high-skilled immigrants including engineers and software specialists were already wary about moving to the United States because of red tape and delays in processing applications for permanent residency.
 
“This will ring the alarm bells again around the world for the high-skilled community,” Kapoor said, adding that skilled foreign workers were “already considering other destinations like India, China and Brazil because the hassle of settling here has increased dramatically.”

Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (Senator Max Baucus and Senator Olympia Snowe shake hands after Senate Finance Committee passed healthcare reform bill, October 13, 2009)

Comments
5 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

These people who are green card holders,have mostly professional skills. Many of them came here because of better job opportunities than in the socialist countries were they grew up,and are predominantly supporters of a capitalist system.Politicians generally target people who they perceive will support their own political party,that is why there is a push to legalize the vast numbers of illegal immigrants because they will validate the democratic party.The green card holders unless they become more vocal will be disregarded at their expense to less worthy applicants.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive
 

LEAVING LEGAL IMMIGRANTS UNCOVERED WILL BE A GROSS INJUSTICE. MANY SPOUSES OF US CITIZENS, WHO HAVE NOT YET BECOME CITIZENS, MANY WHO COMPLY WITH ALL U.S. LAWS AND PAY TAXES WILL FIND THEM DISCRIMINATED AGAINST. WHAT WILL THEN BE THE INCENTIVE FOR FOREIGNERS TO GO THROUGH ALL THE TROUBLE OF BECOMING LEGAL IMMIGRANTS IF THEY ARE TREATED THE SAME AS ILLEGALS?

Posted by Robert Allen | Report as abusive
 

There is one sure way that these green card holders can get into the government single payer health plan,get a union card!and endorse this by becoming a registered democrat and they are through the gate.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive
 

Absolutely legal immigrants should be helped with their health care. And 5 years is about a reasonable time wait for becoming a citizen. We should help those immigrants with a sliding scale program: Assuming health care is passed, the government should subsidize 20% the cost of their health care for each year of the immigrants citizen waiting period. ie, 20% the first year, 40% the 2nd year, etc. At the end of 5 years, when they are citizens they too receive 100% benefits as all legal citizens.
If the mentally challenged government officials having to solve these problems need help, please contact my email address. I will be glad to apply rational decisions to help them reach solutions.

Posted by frank gottman | Report as abusive
 

Healthcare the world over seems much more of an illusion, for far too many people that need it. My company http://www.smilemd.com is right now securing doctors and dentists for voluntary free clinics, for all those uninsureds throughout the USA, who still will not have insurance coverage, even after the dust settles on the great healthcare debate.
The irony of the issue that’s left out of these debates we’re fighting this very moment is that most people in this country die from viruses that are freely contracted. Whatever then will all your money buy you then?

 

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