In the latest attempt to derail health care reform by blaming immigrants, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is up to the same old tricks – only this time, King wants to restrict access to the free market by individuals willing to pay for their own healthcare.
What set King off were two “Dear Colleague” letters circulating in the House of Representatives, where nearly two dozen Democrats made the case for allowing taxpaying, legal immigrants to access health care, and undocumented immigrants to purchase private health insurance in the “exchange” – with their own money, not taxpayer funds.
As Rep. Michael Honda (D-CA), one of the letters’ authors, stated: “Legal permanent residents should be able to purchase their plans, and they should also be eligible for subsidies if they need it. Undocumented, if they can afford it, should be able to buy their own private plans. It keeps them out of the emergency room.”
In typical fashion, Rep. King read the word “immigrant” and jumped on it, telling the Washington Times: “If anybody can, with a straight face, advocate that we should provide health insurance for people who broke into our country, broke our law and for the most part are criminals, I don’t know where they ever would draw the line.” Never mind the fact that no one was advocating taxpayer assistance to undocumented workers, but simply the right to purchase health insurance with their own money. Since when were Republicans like King so opposed to the free market? Oh right – when it involves undocumented immigrants, who “for the most part are criminals,” according to King.
Of course, the actual details matter little to Rep. King and his water carriers in the media, who pushed the story throughout the day yesterday. According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “It doesn’t seem to matter that healthcare legislation states clearly and unequivocally that those in the U.S. without authorization will not be eligible for taxpayer funded health care. It doesn’t seem to matter that the White House and the Senate Finance Committee have gone so far as to prohibit undocumented immigrants from using their own money to purchase private insurance via health exchanges. It doesn’t seem to matter that there are stringent verification procedures in place and that expanding them only costs taxpayers and excludes citizens. What seems to matter is that Republicans like Steve King and Joe Wilson cannot resist the siren call of nativism, and their bankrupt strategy of trying to distort the health care debate with shameless demagoguery. When it comes choosing between trumpeting the virtues of the free market vs. trumping up fake issues and bashing immigrants, immigrant-bashing wins.”