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Health Care for Unauthorized Immigrants: How the U.S. is Already Paying (Guest: Chris Conover, Ph.D.)

July 15, 2019

During the June 27 Democratic presidential debate, all candidates said they support health care for illegal immigrants. Conover has researched this issue and determined the U.S. is already contributing a considerable amount for this care: $18.5 billion.

Chris Conover, adjunct scholar at American Enterprise Institute, discusses how taxpayers are subsidizing health care for illegal immigrants through private payers as well as state and local governments. He discusses California’s recent move to provide Medicaid to illegal immigrants who qualify up to the age of 26, hospitals’ civil and legal obligation to provide care for anyone seeking it, whether unauthorized immigrants already contribute to this support through their participation in the economy, if there is a way to reduce the cost and how free market solutions such as those that address scope of practice, certificate of need and direct primary care can help. One interesting point he makes:  surveys show there is little support for this care through charitable contributions.  California politically, has decided it wants to support care, and is using state dollars to do so. Much of the $18.5 billion he quotes is non-voluntary and appears to be against the desires of most taxpayers and private payers.

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AnneMarie Schieber is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Health Care News, Heartland's monthly newspaper for health care reform. @HCPolicy