Joe Wilson and immigration groups stop illegals from free healthcare
Trying to quell a conservative uproar over his healthcare agenda, President Obama has proposed barring illegal immigrants from a possible government-arranged health insurance marketplace -- even if the immigrants pay with their own money.
The White House revealed its stance Friday, after a renewed debate over illegal immigration that was triggered when Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) heckled Obama on the issue during the president's televised address to Congress.
... [S]ome on the political left say the White House -- wary of more damaging battles with the right -- has given in to Wilson and other conservatives. ...
A White House official said Obama's stance barring undocumented immigrants from participating in the insurance marketplace did not reflect a change of heart after Wilson's outburst -- only that the specific question had just come up in recent days.
'The president has been clear since the campaign that he does not intend for health insurance reform to cover undocumented immigrants,' said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity while discussing official White House policy.
But several White House allies said Tuesday that the policy was a shift designed to position Obama to the right of his critics.
Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.), an early Obama ally, said Tuesday that members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus were reevaluating their support for the healthcare overhaul.
Wilson's outburst, Gutierrez said, was 'said in a mean, ugly way. And what the president did was create an even meaner, uglier public policy to accompany it.'
None of the measures would allow illegal immigrants to receive subsidies . Obama's proposal, circulated in an e-mail to reporters, would go further, barring undocumented immigrants from an insurance marketplace designed to make it easier for consumers to find coverage.
As they can today, undocumented immigrants still could buy insurance in the private market. But the White House e-mail noted that if the Democratic legislation passed, private insurers could be expected to sell more insurance through the so-called exchange and less coverage outside of it, leaving the private market to shrink over time.
The White House also has embraced a verification system to validate that people buying insurance were in the country legally.
That idea had been rejected by House Democrats, who cited studies showing that such systems were costly and prone to mistakes. The White House has not, however, proposed changing the law that requires emergency rooms to treat people who need care, including illegal immigrants.
Obama has said he supports creating a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. But some say that his new restrictive policy violates the spirit of that old pledge.