Saturday, June 26, 2010

Federal Health Care Aid for Illegal Immigrants

So far I've been avoiding researching the situation with illegal immigrants and health care, even though every time I teach medical ethics, I have students claim that it is unfair that they have to pay for health care while those illegal immigrants get it for free. This year I'm going to deal with, though, because I have a couple very intelligent, hardworking students writing papers on it, one with personal experience on the subject.

So I've just tried to get people to be more specific about what federal programs they are actually talking about. My thought was that this would deflate hysterical rhetoric of the "OMG those lazy, coddled immigrants get free everything, like health care, and pie!" sort. The problem with this tactic is that the law here is simply a mess. We are dealing with two of the most incoherent, contradictory legal areas in the US: health care payments and immigration. If you could find a way to throw in the tax code, you would have a federal gibberish trifecta.

So far, one of my students has cited the The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act of 1986 and the Alien Emergency Medical Program, which is mandated as a part of the Welfare Reform Act.

This might wind up as a case of justice vs. compassion, at least if you read all arguments with maximum charity, which would be interesting.

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