DeMint Amendment Reduces Burden of Immigrant Health Care on American Taxpayers
Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) made the following statement regarding his amendment, S.A. 1197, to the Senate immigration bill that would require illegal immigrants to maintain a minimum level of private health insurance as a condition of receiving a Z Visa.
"If the Senate decides to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants, we should at least minimize the burden of health care costs paid by American taxpayers," said Senator DeMint. "This amendment is pro-taxpayer and pro-immigrant. High-deductible health insurance is affordable for immigrants and will save the taxpayers billions of dollars. It will also ensure that Z Visa holders will have health coverage for serious illnesses."
The DeMint health care amendment is pro-taxpayer and pro-immigrant. Requiring the current illegal population in our country to maintain basic health coverage as a condition for legal status is not too much to ask. Whether you like the Z Visa program or not, everyone can agree that it should not overly burden American taxpayers. It also ensures Z Visa holders that are seriously ill or badly injured will not be without health coverage.
The current illegal population is highly uninsured. According to the September 2006 U.S. Census report on the uninsured, nearly 10 million of the 47 million uninsured were non-citizens, accounting for over 20% of the uninsured. Additionally, immigrants as a group are nearly three times more likely to be uninsured than native-born U.S. citizens, according to the Economic Research Initiative on the Uninsured.
The Senate immigration bill recognizes the problem of uncompensated care while admitting that it does not do enough to solve it. The Senate immigration bill requires a one-time $500 fee to pay for a "State Impact Assistance Grant Program" administered by the Federal government for recurring "health and education expenses." But it also says, "It is the sense of the Congress that the Government of the United States and the Government of Mexico should enter into a partnership to examine the uncompensated and burdensome health care costs incurred by the United States due to legal and illegal immigration."
Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says the DeMint health care amendment is a money-saver. CBO has not completed its score but says the amendment will save taxpayers money.
Basic health coverage is affordable. The cheapest way for immigrants to access health coverage is through a high-deductible health plan. The average annual premium for a high-deductible plan is $1,400, about $116 per month, and these plans have seen a 2.8 percent annual premium increase, compared to 8 percent for all other health plans.