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Including Legal Immigrants in Health Care Reform
Just What the Doctor Ordered

August 19, 2009

Washington D.C. - As anti-immigrant groups continue to use immigration as a scare tactic to thwart progress on the health care debate, the Immigration Policy Center has provided factual information on why including legal immigrants in health care reform benefits all Americans. By including legal immigrants in health care reform, we can lower the overall costs. Refusing to accept people who want to pay into the system just doesn't make sense. Immigrants are the not the cause of the health care crisis, but they can certainly be part of the solution.

Who are legal immigrants?
Each year the U.S. government generously admits immigrants into the country to live, work, reunite with their families, and pursue the American dream. Some have parents, children, or spouses in the United States who sponsored them. Others have been admitted to fill jobs. Still others arrive as refugees or asylees, fleeing persecution in their home country. Many immigrants eventually become U.S. citizens. Legal immigrants are citizens-in-waiting. Many legal immigrants are on a path to citizenship. Between 2006 and 2008, over 2 million legal immigrants became U.S. citizens.Excluding legal immigrants from health care doesn't make sense.
Just like U.S. citizens, legal immigrants work and pay taxes. Large numbers of legal immigrants are currently serving in the U.S. military. Legal immigrants are part of our communities, schools, workplaces, and places of worship. It does not make sense to exclude them from paying into the health care system for any amount of time. Many legal immigrants live in "mixed-status families" and have U.S.-citizen children. These U.S.-citizen children are often uninsured because their parents work in jobs that do not offer health insurance, or because of fear and confusion about enrolling eligible children in public safety-net programs such as Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).Including legal immigrants in the health care system not only strengthens the system, but is a critical part of their integration into U.S. society. In addition to working, paying taxes, and learning English, legal immigrants should be able to pay their fair share and have affordable health care like everyone else.Health care is not a zero-sum game. Including legal immigrants does not mean that U.S. citizens get less care. Making affordable health care available to everyone benefits everyone.The more people who pay into a system of health insurance, the more everyone benefits.
It is common sense that the more people who pay into the health care system, the more the costs are spread out over the entire population. Immigrants are eager to pay their fair share and contribute to paying for health reform. In return, immigrants should have affordable health insurance like everyone else in America. It's common sense to include immigrants' contributions.Access to health care, particularly preventive care services, not only improves public health, but is a cost savings. The Center for Science in the Public Interestconcluded that comprehensive prevention programs are the most economical way to maximize health and minimize health care costs.For more information on immigrants and health care, see:
IPC Fact Sheet: Including Legal Immigrants in Health Care Reform: Just What the Doctor OrderedIPC Fact Sheet: Sharing the Costs, Sharing the Benefits: Inclusion is the Best Medicine IPC Blog Post: Including Immigrants in Health Care Reform Makes Economic Sense###

For press inquiries contact Wendy Sefsaf at 202-507-7524 or

Become a FAN of the Immigration Policy Center on Facebook and share this with your friends!The Immigration Policy Center (IPC), established in 2003, is the policy arm of the American Immigration Law Foundation. IPC's mission is to shape a rational national conversation on immigration and immigrant integration. Through its research and analysis, IPC provides policymakers, the media, and the general public with accurate information about the role of immigrants and immigration policy on U.S. society. IPC reports and materials are widely disseminated and relied upon by press and policy makers. IPC staff regularly serves as experts to leaders on Capitol Hill, opinion-makers and the media. IPC is a non-partisan organization that neither supports nor opposes any political party or candidate for office.
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