Issues Related To Illegal Immigrants Could Threaten Health Bill

The Hill reports that the "illegal immigration issue is emerging as the biggest threat to passing healthcare reform in the House." Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus are upset with a last-minute threat to "bolster the House bill's immigration restrictions to match those included in the Senate Finance bill." The restrictions include a provision preventing illegal immigrants from accessing the health insurance 'exchange,' even if they were to pay for the coverage out of their own pocket.

"On Thursday afternoon, four leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) traveled to the White House to meet with Obama on behalf of the entire group." Illegal immigrants are already barred by language in the bill from enrolling in the public option or receiving subsidies from the government to purchase coverage. The Hill reports that the meeting was billed as an opportunity for Caucus representatives "to talk to the President about healthcare," but the underlying message was clear: "Drop your insistence on preventing illegal immigrants from accessing the public exchange..."  (Allen, 11/5).

CongressDaily: "House leaders are likely to bow to pressure from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and leave tighter restrictions for undocumented immigrants out of the health care overhaul, but avoiding conflict in the House could set up a brutal battle with the Senate and possibly President Obama" (Hunt, 11/6).

Roll Call: The other hot-button issue in the House, abortion's treatment in the bill, has not yet been finalized, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday. "'We may not have any amendments,' she said. However, the Speaker clarified later that Republicans would be given an opportunity to offer their 219-page alternative bill" (Dennis, 11/5).

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