Commentary: Government Health Coverage for Illegals is a Bad Idea

Doctors performing surgery
by Deane Waldman, M.D.


Recently, Democrats at both federal and state levels have passed or are considering regulations that will grant government health coverage to illegal residents.

Bad move for both illegals and legal residents.

The Biden administration just announced a Final Rule that will allow eligible DACA recipients to enroll in Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage. Estimates suggest more than 100,000 persons would be given ACA-subsidized or Medicaid/CHIP insurance.

Five Democrat-dominated states are following Biden’s lead. California, New York, and Illinois are offering, or will shortly, government provided Medicaid coverage to undocumented residents who have already entered or are part of the ongoing deluge at our southern border. Colorado and Washington are allowing illegals to enroll in state-subsidized health plans.

Medicaid, originally intended exclusively for the small number of medically vulnerable Americans, now covers 25.5 percent of the U.S. population. Covering millions of illegals will likely add another trillion or three to the national debt. Obamacare cost $1.76 trillion.

While the financial impact of providing insurance is sure to be devastating, the medical consequences will be worse, by the seesaw effect. As the number of individuals with government insurance goes upaccess to timely medical care goes down!

As the number of people demanding care goes up and the number of providers goes down, wait times for care get longer and longer. “Even a four-week delay of cancer treatment is associated with increased mortality … for seven cancers.” In 2017, maximum average wait time to see a primary care physician had increased to more than 122 days. If a four-week delay reduces your chances for survival, imagine what a four-month wait will do. A recent (2024) survey shows wait times have lengthened another 8 percent to 132 days.

Thus, by the seesaw effect, as government provides more people with insurance — ACAMedicaid, Medicare, or Tricare for veterans and their families — the longer people wait for care, until they literally die waiting in line for care: death-by-queue.

By providing government insurance to illegals, Democrats are lying to them for political gain. Providing coverage strongly implies that having health insurance means they will get timely medical care. Data from the seesaw effect shows precisely the opposite.

Democrats’ actions are not only taking care from illegals, they are also reducing access to care for 85 million legal, tax-paying American citizens currently enrolled in Medicaid. The seesaw effect hits them just like illegals.

Giving health insurance to illegals may make nice sound bites. It is in fact death-dealing health policy for all Americans.

In his 2021 book, “The Dying Citizen,” Victor Davis Hanson details (his subtitle), “How Progressive Elites, Tribalism, and Globalization Are Destroying the Idea of America.”  A key point is that having citizenship entails benefits and responsibilities that do not accrue to non-citizens, and certainly not to those who break the law by, for instance, entering this country illegally.

By giving government health insurance to illegals, President Biden and Democrat henchmen are not only harming all Americans by reducing access to care, they are also wiping out the distinction between citizen and non-citizen lawbreaker.

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Deane Waldman, M.D., MBA is Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, Pathology, and Decision Science; former director of the Center for Healthcare Policy at Texas Public Policy Foundation; and author of the multi-award-winning book “Curing the Cancer in U.S. Healthcare: StatesCare and Market-Based Medicine.”
Photo “Doctors Performing Surgery” by Richard Catabay.



Appeared at and reprinted from The American Spectator

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