The president's health care speech to Congress this week touched on a number of hot-button issues in the debate over reform. But it was only when Obama refuted the claim that his health care plan would cover illegal immigrants that Rep. Joe Wilson "let his emotions get the better of him." For days, Wilson's war cry itself has been the subject of controversy. But it took until Friday for columnists to explore the explosive matter of giving immigrants health care.
Cover Immigrants For The Good of The Federal Budget, says The New York Times. The editorial is uncharacteristically practical, and uses a conservative argument to make its pitch for covering non-citizens living in the United States. "There is a line beyond which antipathy to the undocumented can be damaging to those voters' health, not to mention the federal budget. Mr. Wilson and his admirers seem to have crossed it." Shockingly, The Times makes the argument that sick illegal immigrants could spread their untreated diseases to Americans. "In the case of an epidemic, like swine flu, should illegal immigrants go untreated so they can infect legal residents and American citizens?"
Don't Blame Immigrants For Rising Costs, Jon Healy insists. He says that according to the evidence, "immigrant children and immigrants in general consume significantly less medical care per capita than native-born Americans. Noncitizens also make significantly fewer visits to the emergency room, on average, than citizens do."
'Universal' Means Everybody, says Dave Schuler at The Glittering Eye. "Those who genuinely believe that healthcare is a right and that the United States should have universal healthcare coverage to effect that right must also believe that healthcare should be extended to immigrants, legal or illegal and should pay for abortions. Without those provisions it wouldn't be universal."
It's the Moral Thing to Do, Joe Weisenthal argues at The Business Insider. "Good healthcare, as its typically described by reform advocates like the late Ted Kennedy, is a 'right' and not a privilege? If that's the case, then it's a matter of morality, and we wonder why that shouldn't apply to illegal immigrants as well."