Senate Committee Considers Immigration-Related Amendments to Health Care Bill

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor
Sen. Max Baucus presides the Finance Committee's session on health care reform - Image: C-SPAN

Sen. Max Baucus presides at the Finance Committee's session on health care reform. (Image: C-SPAN)

As the health care reform bill slogs through the Senate, the Finance Committee may consider some 15 amendments related to coverage (or lack of it) for immigrants, Spanish-language Los Angeles newspaper La Opinión reported Wednesday.

The amendments are related to issues including identity verification, who gets coverage and who qualifies for subsidies to pay for it, La Opinión’s Antonieta Cádiz reported.

Democrats Robert Menéndez, Jay Rockefeller and Jeff Bingaman have introduced five amendments, two of which deal with coverage for immigrant children who are American citizens, and the eligibility of mixed-status immigrant families for subsidies.

Republicans have their own immigration-related amendments. One of them, by Sen. Charles Grassley, would have required applicants for Medicaid or the children’s health care program to show government-issued identification. But the amendment was defeated in a 13-to-10 vote at the committee Wednesday morning, The A.P. reported.

Coverage of undocumented immigrants –or even their ability to purchase health insurance on their own– is one of several contentious issues being discussed in both the Senate and the House, in addition to others like coverage of abortions and a government-provided health plan.

According to La Opinión, advocates were waiting to see if all the immigration-related amendments would be discussed in the Senate committee.

Robert Sánchez, an analyst with the National Council of La Raza, told the newspaper, “We’re concerned as to how the amendments will be received if they are debated. This debate can tend to be very incendiary and would generate a negative sentiment that would strongly impact the Latino community.”

As of this writing, on Wednesday afternoon, the committee was getting ready for a second session where more of these amendments could be discussed.

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