It’s not surprising that 55% of Americans wrongly believe that health care reform will cover undocumented immigrants when you have the Senate Minority Whip, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), publicly stating that it’s perfectly “logical” to think so. Roll Call’s reporter John Stanton recently highlighted some comments made by Kyl in a conference call with reporters in which he supported right-wing concerns about insuring undocumented immigrants:
KYL: It’s a logical question for people to ask…In the last couple of bills…there were efforts to ensure that only eligible people would receive funding…the efforts to ensure that were defeated by Democrats…given the fact that illegal immigrants receive care — they go to the emergency room –it’s a big burden for hospitals.
But Kyl blatantly ignores the fact that both the House and Senate bills explicitly exclude undocumented immigrants and chooses to instead fuel misguided right-wing anger about immigration and health care. Stanton appeared on Fox News’ On The Record With Greta Van Susteren last night to clear up any doubts on whether health care reform would cover undocumented immigrants:
VAN SUSTEREN: Is there anything in either one of the bills, the house or — to the extent that we have a Senate one, and either one of them that suggests that illegal immigrants will get health care coverage under this?
STANTON: At this point, no. In fact, the House bill actually does have language in it right now which would make it so that it would not apply to undocumented workers as they are labeled in that bill. In the Senate, it is expected to be the same kind of dynamic.
At this afternoon’s online town hall meeting, President Obama once again reiterated that undocumented immigrants will not be covered by the proposed House or Senate health care bills:
OBAMA: This has been an example of just pure misinformation out there. None of the bills that have been voted on in Congress and none of the proposals coming out of the White House propose giving coverage to illegal immigrants. None of them. That has never been on the table. Nobody has discussed it. So everybody who’s listening out there — when you start hearing that somehow this is all designed to provide health insurance to illegal immigrants — that is simply not true. It has never been the case.
And while Kyl groans about the “burden” of emergency health care, Obama cited one big reason for why undocumented immigrants are treated at hospitals: a “basic standard of decency.” And if that’s not a good enough reason for Kyl, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine points out that most hospitals don’t collect information about their patients’ immigration status, so there are “no reliable national figures on hospital costs for undocumented immigrants” in the first place. Watch it: