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Healthcare and immigration converge explosively

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Two hot-button issues are converging to crank the political dial way past “riled-up” – healthcare reform and immigration.

President Obama and Democratic supporters of health insurance legislation insist that bills now being considered exclude illegal immigrants from any coverage. Their opponents’ response boils down to “Oh, yeah?” As with many such disputes, it’s unlikely that agreement will be reached, even if substantial reform legislation is passed into law – by no means a certainty.

For one thing, nobody knows for sure how many illegal immigrants are in the United States or how many of those have received medical treatment at public expense. Neither the US Census Bureau nor hospitals ask about citizenship status.

But the Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 6.8 million uninsured adults and children are in the United States illegally.

More recently, the Center for Immigration Studies (a nonpartisan research organization “which seeks fewer immigrants but a warmer welcome for those admitted”) reported that the portion of immigrants (legal and illegal) without health insurance is more than twice as high as for native-born Americans.

“The high level of uninsurance among immigrants is partly explained by the large share who have low levels of education. This means they often have jobs that do not provide insurance. Moreover, their lower incomes often make insurance unaffordable,” CIS reports. The organization sponsored a panel discussion on healthcare and immigration last week. It’s still available on video.

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