Louisiana Senator Says Health Care Reform Will Benefit Undocumented Immigrants Because ‘It Always Does’

<i>Sen. David Vitter, R-La., with wife Wendy. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)</i>

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., with wife Wendy. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

At a town hall meeting in Louisiana, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) promoted the myth that undocumented immigrants will reap the benefits of health care reform by reasoning that “they always do.” He also proclaimed that what the nation is really facing is an immigration enforcement problem (as opposed to a health care problem) because “a quarter” of the “45 or 48 million” who are uninsured in the US are undocumented immigrants:

There’s nothing in the bill that says it covers illegal aliens. Under the four corners of the bill it does not. But guess what? There’s nothing in all of these other benefit programs that says it goes to illegals either. And in practice it absolutely does, it always does. It always does.

Furthermore, now when the other side talks about 45, 48 million uninsured, a full quarter of that figure — one quarter — are illegal aliens. Now I’ll be God-honest with ya, I think that’s the problem. But I think that’s a law enforcement problem, not a health insurance problem.

Watch it:

Vitter’s claim that undocumented immigrants will receive health care benefits under a bill that excludes them simply because “they always do” is completely ludicrous. Most legal immigrants have difficulty accessing the few public benefits they are even qualified to receive. That’s because of the many obstacles created by stringent verification requirements which serve as barriers for eligible immigrants and US citizens alike.

The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act prohibited undocumented immigrants from being eligible for most public benefits, restricted the eligibility of legal immigrants, and codified procedures for verifying elgibility in a way that guaranteed that almost no immigrant would slip through cracks in theory and in practice. In the case of Medicaid, citizenship requirements led to thousands of Americans being denied or losing coverage, new administrative costs that “far exceeded the savings” by millions of dollars, and only a small handful of undocumented immigrants were caught all within the first two years alone.

Simple math shows that even if you eliminate a quarter of 45 million from the total number of uninsured, that still leaves over 33 million citizens and legal US residents without health insurance. The fact that Vitter is willing to sidestep a situation in which millions of Americans are dying or going broke without health insurance and instead focus on harshly enforcing our immigration laws says a lot about Vitter’s ability to effectively serve the American people.

Vitter has dedicated more of his political career to making life harder for immigrants than he’s devoted to improving the lives of Americans. After helping to derail comprehensive immigration reform in 2007, Vitter introduced English-only legislation that would have terminated language assistance at voting booths and federal agencies and was the only Senator who opposed the removal of the HIV travel and immigration ban. Vitter has also proposed legislation to overturn the 14th Amendment and the US-born children of undocumented immigrants citizenship.

Andrea Christina Nill

Republished with permission from the Wonk Room/Think Progress


  1. Frank Feuerbacher says

    We had tort reform in Texas years ago. Big savings were promised. None materialized. There may be some needed tort reforms, but I would demand that insurance companies open their books to Congress and prove that they are loosing zillions on frivolous law suites or that damage awards are insanely high. So far we are just taking the insurance companies word that reform is needed. We should make sure they are not just wanting to increase their profits by cheating those that deserve compensation.

  2. Mike says

    If you watch cable news at all, you’ve seen the ads for “health care reform”, now being called “health insurance reform”. “It is an interesting subtle switch in language”. Mike Oliphant runs a small Utah health insurance website http://www.BenefitsManager.net and http://www.dentalinsuranceutah.net whom deals with people day to day struggling to find affordable coverage. “I think it’s important to not understate the huge difference in meaning between “health insurance reform” and “health care reform”. Let’s not lose focus on the need to reform a broken health care system which includes not only health insurance carriers but also billing practices of medical providers. Why isn’t TORT reform part of the national discussion? Studies show that alone could lower costs by 15% for both the medical professionals and health insurance carriers (Humana). Perhaps the federal government should take notice of what Utah has accomplished with first step of health insurance reform and promises for reform in the medical provider arena. Several interesting changes took place with the passage of H.B. 188. House Speaker Clark has championed the need for change while recognizing the experience of the private health insurance sector. To see more about this visit http://www.prweb.com/releases/utah_health_insurance/health_care_reform/prweb2614544.htm
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..Threadless Tshirt Giveaway at jaypeeonline.net =-.

  3. says

    I don’t know if Vitter is THE stupidest senator. I DO know that he looks and sounds like he is. Vitter is a perfect example of how, especially in the Repuyblican South, ideology can trump ability every time.


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