Immigration Reform Reax: Wonkblog Examines the Obamacare Wrinkles in Immigration Reform

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The Washington Post Wonkblog's Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas look at the political angle of the push to block undocumented immigrants from getting any kind of Obamacare benefits as part of the Gang of Eight's comprehensive immigration reform:

But if Republicans are trying to make inroads with the Obamacare-loving Hispanic electorate, they’ve got a funny way of going about it. The latest flashpoint in the immigration debate is health benefits. Senate Republicans are insisting that immigrants be ineligible for federal health subsidies for five years after they become legal residents — and that’s after the decade-long path to becoming a legal resident, during which they’re also ineligible. House Republicans are considering legislation “that would deny publicly subsidized emergency care to illegal immigrants and force them to purchase private health insurance plans, without access to federal subsidies, as a requirement for earning permanent legal residency.”

And all this will come at the same time when Republican governors in states with huge Hispanic population are rejecting a Medicaid expansion that would hugely benefit many poorer Hispanics. In Texas, Democratic strategists already think this might be the push the state needs to turn blue.

So amidst an effort to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill meant to help the Republican Party appeal to Hispanic voters, Republicans are making a point of demanding that legalized immigrants can’t get Obamacare, and in some cases can’t even get emergency care. They’re also considering a crushingly punitive version of the individual mandate, in which undocumented immigrants need to purchase private health care on their own, without subsidies, or they can’t even become legal residents. And they’re refusing to agree to Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion in some of the states where it would do Hispanics the most good.

This is, to say the least, a mixed message.

The Weekly's look at the immigration bill here.

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