Last week, President Obama attempted to kick-start the stalled health care debate by offering his own proposal to reform the U.S. health care system. While the White House states that the proposal “incorporates the work the House and the Senate have done and adds additional ideas from Republican members of Congress,” the president’s plan is more akin to a list of ideas rather than actual legislative text. Importantly, the White House proposal is completely silent with respect to the immigration-related issues FAIR and other groups had raised concerning the House and Senate-passed health care bills.
Immigration reformers took issue with the House-passed health care bill (H.R. 3962) because it: (1) waives the five-year waiting period for legal aliens with respect to the taxpayer-subsidized affordability credits created under the legislation and (2) contains a flawed verification process that would allow illegal aliens to fraudulently obtain benefits. (See FAIR’s Legislative Analysis of H.R. 3962). There were similar problems in the Senate bill (H.R. 3590; See also FAIR’s Legislative Analysis of H.R. 3590), although the Senate bill generally bars illegal aliens from participating in the “exchange” marketplace, while the House bill does not. (See FAIR President Dan Stein’s USA Today op-ed, November 2009). It is unclear as to how President Obama’s proposal would address these issues.
Unfortunately, last week’s bipartisan health care summit did not address any of these issues, and at this point, it remains uncertain as to how the health care debate will proceed.