Obama Made Americans Buy Insurance, but Judge Stops Trump Rule That Immigrants Do the Same
Is it morally unacceptable to ask that people be able to pay for their own health insurance? According to a judge appointed by a president who thought that was perfectly acceptable, the answer is yes.
According to the Washington Examiner, an Obama-appointed judge blocked a Trump administration measure that would have required many legal immigrants to prove they could pay by for coverage, or had insurance through an employer.
Legal immigrants who were receiving visas that could lead to green cards would need to demonstrate they either had enough money to cover their medical expenses or had other means to get health coverage.
”Immigrants otherwise would have to show that they received private coverage through a job, directly from an insurer, through a short-term plan that is cheaper but offers less generous benefits, or through a family member,” the Examiner reported.
“To meet the requirement, they would not be able to obtain tax subsidies through Obamacare that help them pay for premiums.”
The rule doesn’t apply to refugees or asylum-seekers.
“Healthcare providers and taxpayers bear substantial costs in paying for medical expenses incurred by people who lack health insurance or the ability to pay for their healthcare,” the White House said in a proclamation announcing the new rule in October.
”Hospitals and other providers often administer care to the uninsured without any hope of receiving reimbursement from them. The costs associated with this care are passed on to the American people in the form of higher taxes, higher premiums, and higher fees for medical services.”
“In total, uncompensated care costs — the overall measure of unreimbursed services that hospitals give their patients — have exceeded $35 billion in each of the last 10 years. These costs amount to approximately $7 million on average for each hospital in the United States, and can drive hospitals into insolvency. Beyond uncompensated care costs, the uninsured strain Federal and State government budgets through their reliance on publicly funded programs, which ultimately are financed by taxpayers.”
The White House also noted that legal immigrants are three times more likely than American citizens to be uninsured.
On Tuesday, an Obama appointee blocked the rule from taking effect.
In his decision, United States District Court Judge Michael Simon temporarily blocked the State Department from implementing the rule, arguing it violated federal immigration laws.
“We look forward to defending the president’s lawful action,” the White House said in a statement.
“Congress plainly provided the president with broad authority to impose additional restrictions or limitations on the entry of aliens into the United States,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said.
The great irony, of course, is the fact that Simon was an appointee of a president who felt that Americans needed to buy insurance whether they needed it or not.
In fact, that was the whole point of the Obamacare individual mandate: If you didn’t get healthy people to pay into the program by buying coverage they didn’t need, premiums would skyrocket.
I mean, they did anyway, but at some level the thing could be seen as a wealth transfer from younger, healthier Americans to older Americans. If you didn’t buy insurance, you had to pay a fine.
This was morally passable then.
In fact, the Supreme Court found that it was legal.
That’s not to say it’s ethical — at least for people who are already in the country. However, it passed constitutional muster.
Given the broad powers that the president enjoys under immigration law — something that the Supreme Court has already ruled on via the president’s travel ban — asking that legal immigrants have the money to pay for their health care or have an insurance plan that pays for it makes no small amount of sense, particularly when you consider the burden imposed on our health care system.
One hopes — suspects, even — higher courts will consider this.
Until then, it’s worth noting the irony at play here.
This is a judge who wants immigrants to this country to have a freedom that American citizens didn’t have under the former president.