LatinaLista — Forget all the outrage over Rep. Joe Wilson's rude yell during the President's healthcare speech to the joint members of Congress last week. Rather than sanction him or ignore his outburst of "You lie," the Senate Finance Committee's "Gang of Six" (3 Democrats/3Republicans) met this morning to rehash certain points of the healthcare bill -- notably, a denial of benefits to undocumented immigrants just to drive the point home to Wilson and others that undocumented immigrants are not included in any healthcare coverage.
Sen. Max Baucus, Senate Finance Committee Chairman
(Photo source: Getty Images)
Yet, Democrats are expecting Republicans to "play games" to derail or postpone the passage of any healthcare bill. On a blogger conference call this evening with members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, it was made clear that the definition of a bipartisan agreement on the healthcare bill does not entail a 50-50 split.
According to one representative, there are 59 Democrats willing to sign onto the bill and just having 1 Republican add their name means bipartisanship in their eyes.
Senate Democratic Caucus reps were not willing to speculate on who that Republican might be -- some on the call were speculating Olympia Snow -- but reps said that the main goal is to get 60 votes. Voicing fear that the Republicans might want to tack on a "nasty" amendment, reps were quick to explain that 60 votes are even required for an amendment.
According to officials on the call, while the White House has been in touch with the Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, it's Mr. Baucus who "holds the pen" in drafting this version of the legislation -- and delivering it this week.
However, while it is appreciated that Congress is doing its best to get a healthcare bill passed, by soothing fears of paranoid Republicans who find it unAmerican to grant health coverage to undocumented immigrants, the question remains -- Why not grant undocumented immigrants health coverage since they pay for it already?
When it comes to undocumented immigrants, the goal of this country has always been to make them such outcasts that they would want to leave the country. What politicians didn't count on was these immigrants establishing roots here.
As such, our system has effectively criminalized this group of people by not allowing them to be a legal part of our economy. Though they contribute to sales and property taxes and even Social Security through their wages, there is a refusal to acknowledge the fact that a good many undocumented immigrants are willing to pay for healthcare coverage, car insurance, etc. -- but we don't let them.
As it is now, undocumented immigrants pay for their clinic visits for them and their children. It's only when those emergencies arise in their families, like families everywhere, where a trip to the ER usually means something unexpected and catastrophic, that their fragile family budgets are hit and they find themselves at the goodwill mercy of the healthcare system.
But it doesn't have to be this way. According to a passage on the Time magazine politics blog site:
The purpose of the exchange, and health care reform as a whole, is to decrease the number of people who avoid insurance and choose instead to get health care in hospital emergency rooms, a cost that is eventually picked up by the local, state and federal government.
By frustrating the opportunities for illegal immigrants to purchase insurance with their own money, the White House position suggests that those here illegally could continue to cost public money by using emergency rooms. In other words, by banning illegal immigrants from paying their own way on the exchange, it is possible that the taxpayer cost of health care for illegal immigrants would be higher, not lower. Though the signs from the Senate are a bit mixed, the Finance Committee is likely to adopt Obama's no-exchange standard.
A White House stand that doesn't make sense but ensures the peace with those Republicans who can't see past their paranoia and envision themselves as saviors of the nation when, in essence, they're not only costing the nation more money but contradicting the fundamental law of Christianity -- "You are your brother's keeper."