Senate reform proposal would exclude undocumented aliens

While the Senate Finance Committee seems to be game for making a major expansion of U.S. health coverage, covering undocumented aliens is a bridge too far. That comes from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), who dubbed such coverage "too politically explosive" in comments to reporters.

If legislation passes without covering undocumented aliens, the move could hit the border states particularly hard. Not only would the large undocumented immigrant population still be forced to use emergency departments--without the resources to pay for these visits--but the hospitals might have to do without extra funding they've been getting to help pay this cost, as the program providing the money expires this year. Texas hospitals, for example, have been getting $45 million per year, and losing that funding would be painful.

Otherwise, the plan percolating in the committee seems reasonably effective, with the Congressional Budget Office estimating that more than 94 percent of Americans could be covered under proposals currently on the table.

To learn more about this issue:
- read this Modern Healthcare piece (reg. req.)

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