For the past few days, right-wing health care opponents and anti-immigrant wingnuts have been relentlessly spreading the myth that the proposed health care bill will offer undocumented immigrants “free and total access” to federal health care benefits. In a portion of an interview with Univision’s Maria Elena Salinas which aired this morning, Obama reiterated that undocumented immigrants will not be covered under his health care reform plan and stated that we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform that puts them on a path to legalization:
SALINAS: Mr. President, the National Council of La Raza says that we cannot have true health care reform unless it includes undocumented immigrants, legal residents, and immigrant children. These are the groups that are most likely to be uninsured. How do you address this?
OBAMA: As I said before, the best way to deal with undocumented immigrants is to make them documented.
SALINAS: But what happens to legal residents who have followed the rules?
OBAMA: As I just said, when it comes to legal residents we want to find ways that they can access preventative services, enrollment services, regular treatments. So, I think there’s a difference between legal immigrants who work here — they should have access to medical services. Undocumented workers who are here illegally — we want to create comprehensive immigration reform so they can get on a path to citizenship. Until they do, we can’t reward them with some of the benefits which quite frankly cost us a lot of money. There will be a lot of resistance when people who are citizens and legal residents aren’t getting these services and we’re giving them to undocumented workers.
Sec. 242 and 246 of America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 explicitly state that only individuals who are lawfully present in US will receive any of the benefits provided in the bill.