La Raza President Wants Health Care Reform for ‘Everyone,’ Including Illegal Aliens

Matt Cover, CNS News, October 2, 2009

National Council of La Raza President Janet Murguia said that health care reform should include “everyone,” and this means illegal immigrants as well because with more people paying into the system it might lower the costs of health care.

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“From our perspective there’s a strong case to be made in this country for us to reform health care [and] it ought to include everyone,” said Murguia. “There’s a lot of different reasons why we should try to reform this system once and for all so that everyone is covered. The more people who are covered, the more cost-effective and the more and better health outcomes we’re going to have.”

“We know that politically it’s very difficult right now to take on the issue of undocumenteds [but] there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be trying to cover as many people as possible, certainly when it comes to undocumented children,” she said. “Our goal should be to have health care reform for everyone.”

Both of the current House and Senate versions of health care reform legislation restrict the availability of federal health insurance subsidies to U.S. citizens and legal residents. Title II, Subtitle C, Section 246 of the House health care bill (H.R. 3200), for example, stipulates “no federal payment for undocumented aliens.”

The Senate bill says that beneficiaries of federal health care programs must be a citizen or national or an alien lawfully admitted to the United States. But neither bill apparently has a provision for verifying citizenship status.

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Republican attempts to amend the health care legislation to require a photo ID and Social Security number and similar safeguards to receive federally subsidized health benefits have been defeated, largely along party lines.

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Comprehensive immigration reform would convert illegal immigrants into legal immigrants who would be permanent legal residents of the United States with an opportunity to be naturalized as U.S. citizens.

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Muguira said on Thursday: “From our perspective, when it comes to comprehensive immigration reform, we need to settle that issue once and for all [because] there’s a group of 12 million individuals who’ve been making important contributions to this country, we need to find a resolution for them.”

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When asked by CNSNews.com to clarify whether a pathway to legalization was the solution to getting insurance coverage for illegal immigrants, Murguia said it was “a solution” and that immigration reform was needed so that all reform proposals would not face this potential roadblock.

“It would be a solution,” she said. “What we have argued all the time is that we should tackle the issue of comprehensive immigration reform once and for all because it may not be health care reform, it could be any other major reform, but these issues of the status of undocumenteds in this country and what’s right and fair are going to continue to come up.”

“If we can resolve that,” she said, “I think we’ll go a long way to being able to address these broader reforms without these issues being distractions.”

CNSNews.com asked Murguia whether her “solution” meant that illegal immigrants would be eligible for federal health insurance subsidies if comprehensive reform is passed. She responded that illegal aliens should be covered along with everyone else, but that who was eligible for which federal programs would depend on the specific reform proposals.

“Right now, there’s a case to be made in the long term for including as many people as possible because it’s more cost-effective and because there’s better health results and all of that,” said Murguia. “In terms of fairness and cost efficiencies I think it’s in the interest of health care reform to have access to as many people as possible.”

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