Obamacare

Immigration Reform Meets Obamacare

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credit: stringberd / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Another day, another hold up for the immigration overhaul currently making its way through Congress. This time it's health care—and in particular, Obamacare. The Washington Post reports that House Republicans are considering proposals that would require unauthorized immigrants—who are already ineligible for Obamacare's insurance subsidies, but are also exempt from the law's health insurance mandate—to purchase health coverage anyway, no subsidies included. The GOP is also looking at a proposal that would deny unauthorized immigrants subsidized treatment at emergency rooms, under the theory that forcing them to comply with a mandate would mean they have coverage already.

To some extent, this is just a Republican delaying tactic. Immigration overhaul legislation seems likely to pass in the Senate, but it's far from certain to pass in the House. That's where this is fight is happening.

But to the extent that it's anything aside from that, it tells us a little bit about how Obamacare continues to shape the national political discussion, even on issues that aren't primarily about health care. As the Post report says, "The insertion of the politics of health-care reform — one of the most polarizing issues in Washington — into the immigration debate threatens to split open the emerging bipartisan coalitions that are crucial to passing a bill." It's an illustration, in other words, of how thoroughly Obamacare has poisoned national political discussion. The controversy over the law, driven by its continued lack of public support, is bleeding over into other issues.

It also suggests the trade-offs that arise between welfare-state generosity and free immigration. Democrats were not entirely unaware of this when they passed Obamacare; that's why the law prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving insurance subsidies, and why illegal and even recently legalized immigrants are generally restricted from receiving Medicaid. Yet even still, the health care overhaul is creating headaches for immigration reformers.

None of which is to say that it's not also a convenient way for Republicans to push back against the legislation. And in that respect it tells us something about the GOP's penchant for tactical opportunism, and its shallow policy foundations, especially when it comes to health care. In theory, the GOP is the party that opposes the mandate. Yet now GOP legislators are not only proposing one of their own, they are defending it in the name of "individual responsibility"—the same language used by both Mitt Romney and the Obama administration to defend their mandates. It's not exactly surprising, given that Republicans helped invent and popularize the idea of an insurance mandate. But it is telling about the party's priorities: For some GOP legislators, consistent and principled opposition to the mandate is apparently secondary to the hope of slowing down an immigration overhaul plan. 

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  1. Democrats were not entirely unaware of this when they passed Obamacare…..

    It burns……..!

  2. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

  3. Peter,

    When the government controls everyone’s healthcare, healthcare will be a part of every single decision the government makes. And WTF is up with the “unauthorized” bs? Come on Peter, they are illegals. You don’t like that they are illegal. But that is what they are. You should make your argument without further raping the English language of its meaning. You don’t help things by engaging in idiotic euphemisms, like everyone is so stupid that if we just don’t see the word “illegal” we somehow won’t think they are.

    1. No law has passed to “control everyone’s healthcare”, idiot. Most of us still pay private insurers to do that.

      1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuGtxt84wPQ

        CHRISTFAG!!!

        Shut up you little monkey. Thanks to you and your fascist ilk, the contents of every single health insurance plan is now under the control of the federal government and everyone in America is required to buy one.

        That is government control of healthcare you little fascist fuck.

        1. States have always regulated the content of health insurance policies and they still get to run the exchanges. Romneycare is everywhere now. Thank him and don’t blame me for your clusterfuck.

          1. Wait, *you’re* Obama?

      2. “No law has passed to “control everyone’s healthcare”, idiot. Most of us still pay private insurers to do that.”

        That’s funny, how about the bit where I can’t keep my current insurance policy (catastrophic, high deductible) because it isn’t ‘comprehensive enough for the government decision makers?

        What about the guy Kathleen Sebelius has basically sentenced to death because she decided that Sarah Murnaghan got to jump to the head of the transplant line?

    2. Peter, they are illegals. You don’t like that they are illegal. But that is what they are.

      When the law in question is itself immoral and unjust, acting in defiance that law is no crime.

      1. So what? It doesn’t make them less “illegal”. It just means they shouldn’t be illegal. You are still raping the language when you use euphemisms.

        1. It doesn’t make them less “illegal”.

          Yes, it does. It’s not a euphemism but an argument about the philosophy of law and the ultimate origin of justice/morality.

          But that seems to have gone sailing over your head as you burrow into the comforting safety of inane culture-war nostrums.

        2. “Illegal immigrants” are here without “authorization” from the US government, hence “unauthorized”. You claiming the “rape” of the language is typical RES team Tonyism on your part.

          1. John is not even content to use the term “illegal immigrant”; he calls them “illegals”. As a Grumpatarian par excellance, I doubt he’s thought through the socilinguistic implications of declaring a person “illegal”. You smell the aroma wafting of that word? Mmm…”genocide-y”!

            1. * sociolinguistic

          2. Unauthorized is even worse from the open borders perspective since it implies that only those with authorization can move. The correct term is “illegal”. That is a totally neutral statement of fact. Lots of things are “illegal”. Their being illegal says nothing about their morality or the morality of the law that makes them illegal.

            1. Unauthorized is even worse from the open borders perspective since it implies that only those with authorization can move.

              I don’t know if I would agree that it’s “even worse”, but you are correct in that its not an improvement.

              The correct term is “illegal”. That is a totally neutral statement of fact.

              Balderdash! For the reasons I mentioned above concerning sociolinguistics.

              Very few words in any language are “totally neutral”. Words and phrases have affective connotations. Especially when they are used in a socially-mediated context such as the law or politics.

              Their being illegal says nothing about their morality or the morality of the law that makes them illegal.

              That’s one theory of law, yes. A theory I disagree with for many reasons, of which a web post (with the new text limits especially) is probably not enough to fully explain my objections.

              This is a good start, though.

              1. You seem to be assuming that “illegal” means “bad”. I look at illegal meaning “against the law”. Good or bad is a value judgement about the law being broken. It was illegal for a Jew to hold a job in Nazi Germany. Understanding that that law is horrible doesn’t make the act of a Jew holding a job there any less “illegal”.

                1. Yeah John, with comments like,

                  “You don’t like that they are illegal. But that is what they are. You should make your argument without further RAPING the English language of its meaning. You don’t help things by engaging in IDIOTIC euphemisms, like everyone is so stupid that if we just don’t see the word “illegal” we somehow won’t think they are.”

                  I’m sure you see “illegal” as it relates to immigrants as being a purely neutral term.

                  Riiight…

      2. If you support amnesty, you are looking for mercy not justice.

        1. Depends on what amnesty means in the context of their legal status to live and work. If amnesty means they are no longer statutory criminals, it can be both mercy and justice because the law making person A a criminal for standing on this side of a line (in a public place, of course) was unjust to begin with. What else could amnesty mean that makes it mercy but not justice? I haven’t examined the current Senate proposal.

    3. “When the government controls everyone’s healthcare, healthcare will be a part of every single decision the government makes.”

      I agree with this. Obamacare was meant to be a massive ‘comprehensive’ bill; it’s supporters can’t be heard to complain now if it gets brought up in other areas after they’ve already pushed it into those areas.

    4. “You should make your argument without further raping the English language of its meaning.”

      Wow…

      1. It is true. Why doesn’t Sudderman say “illegal”. If they are not “illegal” why are we fighting over the law? That is what they are. What is the point of using other words than to imply that the truth is something different than what it is?

    5. The difference between :illegal” and “unauthorized” is the difference between believing that the law should be obeyed no matter what, simply because its the law, and believing that people actually have innate rights that are not derived from government.

  4. You do realize, reason, that any immigration reform that comes from this Congress will be a worse abomination than the immigration policies we currently have in place, right? You can pine for reform, but don’t cry for what’s currently being torpedoed because it would most assuredly ed up making the situation worse.

    1. I wholeheartedly agree with this and I think this is an area where a lot of libertarians just want to feel good without thinking critically about the actual consequences of proposed solutions. Social liberalism.

  5. Migration is not a crime

    Neither is alt-text.

    1. Awww c’mon Auric, it’s Paddington Bear! Alt-text would only detract from its awesomeness

      1. I don’t know what that is, but I do know that you are now dead to me.

        1. You don’t know who Paddington Bear is? You are even deader to me

          1. 1) That looks like some stupid British thing.

            2) No books came out between the time my older sister was born, and the time I turned 14.

            3) You are an alt-text less monster.

            1. Now I know where you went wrong.

              1. By not being born so far in the ancient past the only alternative to this bear thing was attempting to master fire?

                1. Observe the pronounced mental retardation from a lack of British spelling in his youth. Note the low forehead, indicating a brutish ignorance of that mischievous bear.

                  1. Observe the prononced mental retardation from a lack of British spelling in his yoth.

                    FTFY.

                    1. OK I laughed. You are no longer dead to me. Merely undead

                    2. The vile French “u.”

                    3. well, French u too, buddy

            2. While you’re here, what’s happened in the world the last ten days? I’ve been in my orbital fortress and out of touch. I heard about Banks–much suckitude–and something about some NSA leaker. Is Obama still president?

            3. In the United States, episodes aired on PBS, on the syndicated series Romper Room, on Nickelodeon as a segment on the program Pinwheel and on USA Network as a segment on the Calliope (TV series) in the late 1970s and early 1980s, as well as in between preschool programming on the Disney Channel throughout the 1990s. The series also aired on HBO in between features, usually when they were airing children’s programmes.

              Just admit that your family didn’t allow you to watch television while you were locked in the closet between beatings with a rubber hose.

              We are a caring and understanding community.

              1. I’m not sure I ever saw the show. I read the books. Well, the first series–looks like a lot more have been published since then.

              2. So your options for watching a British cartoon about a bear are super old or on premium TV, and you think that shows you’re normal for having watched it?

                1. *shrugs*

                  Where I came from, having or not having cable tv was the ultimate criteron on whether or not your family was “po'”.

                  Not that closet-locking belongs to any particular social class or ethnicity.

                  Honestly though, you didn’t have Nickelodeon while you were growing up?

                  1. Where I came from, having or not having cable tv was the ultimate criteron on whether or not your family was “po'”.

                    You still can’t get cable at my parents’. They do have satellite now.

                    Honestly though, you didn’t have Nickelodeon while you were growing up?

                    Of course not. I was lucky to get Fox to come in. That only worked like once a week.

                    1. Wow…I cannot imagine my childhood without Nick. Where did you watch your “Ren and Stimpy” or your “You Can’t Do That on Television?”

                      Wait…you didn’t have MTV, when they showed music videos, either, didn’t you?

                      LIZARD PERSON!

                    2. I don’t listen to music on the radio, why would I listen to it on TV?

                    3. Because at one point you were a teenager, and music videos often have scantily clad women rhythmically gyrating their hips.

                    4. Meh. If I wanted to have dancing and music mixed up with attractive women I would have just attended more of my high school’s dance concerts.

                    5. You were no teenager, Lizard Person.

                    6. I was just more interested in attractive women than random noise and stupid looking movements. And found attractive women that it was (at least theoretically) possible for me to seduce more appealing.

                    7. Where did you watch your “Ren and Stimpy” or your “You Can’t Do That on Television?”

                      Silly Mulatto, everyone knows cartoons only air on school days and Saturdays. What sort of crazy world did you live in, that there was a specific channel with cartoons on it?

        2. What sort of deprived childhood did you have? Were you locked in a closet and called “It” or something?

  6. Paddington, of course, is no immigrant at all, since we don’t extend citizenship to bears. I’m not familiar with UK law, but I imagine the Browns could be in some legal trouble for importing a bear into London and raising one without a license. Aunt Lucy may have to answer to the Peruvian government as well.

  7. I’m not sure what the criticism of the GOP here is. It seems consistent with libertarianism to not open up government coffers to illegals (or ‘unauthorizeds’).

    1. I’m not sure how forcing them to comply with the purchase mandate is consistent with libertarianism.

    2. I thought the libertarian position is that the welfare state should not exist, and without it, there would be no reason to restrict peaceful entry for work or play.

      Even with it, you could just authorize the welfare state to be used by citizens only. But then the R’s and D’s wouldn’t have a political fight and they can’t have any issue without political points to be gained.

  8. Gov Scott suspended insurance pricing oversight for health care. Basically let’s insurers realistically price Obamacare.
    http://www.tampabay.com/news/p…..re/2124602

    1. Sellers of goods and services name their price?! The horror!

  9. Isn’t this entirely consistent with Obama’s argument that we need the mandate to keep the uninsured from flooding emergency rooms and then skipping out on payment? It seems like Obama and the Dems should be embracing this proposal.

  10. it tells us a little bit about how Obamacare continues to shape the national political discussion

    I think here you’re looking for something that’s not there. Obamacare is simply the easily target when looking for leverage. If it wasn’t Obamacare, it would certainly be something else that would be the primary counter-weight in any particular political game. I’m just not seeing how it really matters that at this particular time, Obamacare happens to be the highest priority target for the GOP to demonize.

  11. In theory, the GOP is the party that opposes the mandate. Yet now GOP legislators are not only proposing one of their own, they are defending it in the name of “individual responsibility” ? the same language used by both Mitt Romney and the Obama administration to defend their mandates.

    “It’s not Fascism when We do it!”

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