Health Coverage A Divisive Issue In Immigration Debate

As Congress considers an immigration law overhaul, health care for newly legalized residents is a sticking point. The proposed deal would bar such residents from receiving Medicaid or buying coverage in new health exchanges for more than a decade after they qualify for legal status. Meanwhile, budget issues and sequestration cuts are also hot topics. 

The Associated Press/Washington Post: As Congress Tackles Immigration Reform, Obama's Health Care Overhaul Looms Over The Debate
President Barack Obama has championed two sweeping policy changes that could transform how people live in the United States: affordable health care for all and a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants illegally in the country. But many immigrants will have to wait more than a decade to qualify for health care benefits under the proposed immigration overhaul being debated by Congress, ensuring a huge swath of people will remain uninsured as the centerpiece of Obama’s health care law launches next year (6/21).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Senate Democrats Press Ahead On Spending Bills Restoring Sequestration-Mandated Budget Cuts
At issue is the congressional appropriations process in which 12 individual bills set the day-to-day operating budgets of 15 Cabinet departments and other federal agencies. The bills make up a little more than one-third of the budget, with expensive benefit programs like Medicare and Social Security making up most of the rest. The 12 bills represent Congress' most basic job but the appropriations process has broken down over the years and is showing signs of grinding to a complete halt this year. Congress is likely to resort yet again to a stopgap spending measure in September that keeps the government running but President Barack Obama has issued a blanket veto threat against the House GOP's spending measures, which reflect not just the sequestration-mandated cuts but transfers $28 billion from domestic programs in order to patch up the Pentagon’s budget (6/20).

Modern Healthcare: Providers Hang Back On Pushing For Sequester Fix
Despite two months of pain induced by Medicare cuts under the deficit-reduction law triggered this year, advocates for hospitals and physicians are waiting until fall to push a legislative fix. The dire warnings before the 2% cuts in Medicare payments hit April 1 have given way to watchful waiting. “In terms of mainstream policymaking, we're in a quagmire right now until we get to event-making policies that have to be dealt with, like the debt ceiling and government spending for 2014,” said Chip Kahn, president and CEO of the Federal of American Hospitals (Daly, 6/20).

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