Democrat's Solution: Legalize Immigrants to Fix Obamacare

Saturday, 16 Nov 2013 02:53 PM

By Andrea Billups

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A crucial fix for the ailing Obama healthcare law could come in the form of legalizing immigrants so they could receive coverage and participate in the program's exchanges, one Colorado lawmaker says.

Rep. Jared Polis on Friday called upon Congress to grant illegal immigrants citizenship rights that would allow them access to the federally mandate health coverage, the Washington Times reported.

Immigrants are currently not required to participate in the program's individual mandate and don’t receive subsidies or the ability to participate in Medicaid programs, Polis noted. Too often they are shifted to emergency rooms for routine healthcare, some not paying their bills, which in turn are absorbed by paying consumers, said Polis, a Democrat who represents Colorado's 2nd District.

"American citizens are essentially being forced to pay for the health care costs of people who are here illegally every day, until we pass comprehensive immigration reform," Polis told the Times. "We’re wondering why rates are going up. … It’s no surprise. When somebody doesn’t have insurance, their costs are shifted onto other people that do."

Solis called on his fellow lawmakers to pass House Res. 15, a Democrat-sponsored bill that would open a pathway to citizenship for most illegals, even as House Speaker John Boehner said debate on any immigration law would not come this year, telling reporters on Wednesday: "We have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill," NBC News reported.

A Senate measure, known as the "Gang of 8" bill, passed by a wide margin in June, but since then House leaders have stalled progress in their chamber, even as immigration reformers have sought some compromise.

Polis was more optimistic on immigration and healthcare. "If we can pass HR 15 people who are here illegally will have to get insurance on their own instead of forcing Americans to pay for their insurance," he said.

The Times cited a Congressional Budget Office report showing the Senate immigration bill, offering legalization for current illegals and expanding legal immigration, could cost $82.3 billion in the next decade, increasing Obamacare subsidies for new legal immigrants.

Those who are in the country illegally would not be able to enter the Obamacare system for a decade after they obtain green cards under current law.

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