Obama Campaigning For Health Care Reform

Barack Obama is making a big push for health care reform this weekend, citing a new Treasury Department analysis which found that 48 percent of all people under age 65 go without health coverage at some point in a 10-year period. This was the topic of his weekly address:

He went to Minnesota to discuss health care reform:

Obama will also be appearing on Sixty Minutes tomorrow night:

“I intend to be president for a while and once this bill passes, I own it. And if people look and say, You know what? This hasn’t reduced my costs. My premiums are still going up 25 percent, insurance companies are still jerking me around.’ I’m the one who’s going to be held responsible. So I have every incentive to get this right,” he said in an excerpt of the CBS interview released Saturday.

White House Says Illegal Aliens Will Not Be Allowed To Purchase Insurance Through Exchanges

I understand the political pressures for Obama to make it clear that health care reform will not lead to spending tax payer’s money on illegal aliens, but this simply makes no sense. The White House now says that illegal aliens will not be able to purchase insurance through the new exchanges:

The White House on Friday said it would bar illegal immigrants from purchasing health coverage through a proposed insurance marketplace. But the administration also said that the federal government would continue to require hospitals to provide emergency treatment to illegal immigrants at taxpayer expense.

The question of how illegal immigrants would fare under a proposed overhaul of the health care system came into sharp focus on Wednesday during President Obama’s speech to Congress. Representative Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina, shouted “You lie!” when Mr. Obama insisted that his health care overhaul would not insure illegal immigrants.

And the Obama administration’s determination to show that immigrants will not benefit from the health system overhaul highlighted the extraordinary sensitivity to the issue at a time when lawmakers still remain divided over whether the government should pay to provide health coverage for all American citizens.

A White House spokesman, Reid Cherlin, said that the president’s proposals would bar illegal immigrants from purchasing private insurance through the new government marketplace, known as an exchange, and that verification of immigration status would be required for anyone seeking to purchase coverage.

Besides making no sense in principle to deny even illegal aliens the ability to purchase something with their own money, this might also have negative results for everyone else. Having more people, including illegal aliens, buying insurance increases the risk pool and would lower the cost. Not allowing illegal aliens to purchase insurance also increases the risk that they will require emergency room treatment at public expense. It would be advantageous for them to have medical coverage during future influenza epidemics to increase the chances they are vaccinated, potentially reducing spread of the disease.

This is an unnecessary way to demonstrate that Joe Wilson was wrong. Hopefully by the time the final legislation gets through Congress this idea will be forgotten.