Among the failures of Obamacare to end the so-called problem of the uninsured is that it is not quite achieving its purpose of ending the problem of the poor and healthcare.
Of course, Obamacare's premise is that the current hodgepodge of healthcare programs for the poor should be replaced with a unified system and that there will be savings in administering healthcare through a nationalized health insurance system.
However, not only is the program failing to meet that goal, with at least half of those qualifying for welfare healthcare not eligible for the Obamacare system, but the reform itself has exposed the true source of the problem of welfare healthcare: immigrants.
WaPo Wonkblog September 8, 2013 by Sarah Kliff and Lena H. Sun
Every month, a hundred or so people crowd the lobby of the Arlington Free Clinic, clutching blue tickets to enter a health-care lottery. Uninsured and ailing, they hope to be among the two dozen who hit the jackpot and are given free care.
Some might think the lottery’s days are numbered, given that the insurance expansion under President Obama’s health-care law is taking effect in January. But clinic officials say the lottery will stay because demand for their services is likely to be as high as ever. “We will be business as usual,” said Nancy Sanger Pallesen, the clinic’s executive director.
The Affordable Care Act, the most sweeping health care program created in a half century, is expected to extend coverage to 25 million Americans over the next decade, according to the most recent government estimates. But that will still leave a projected 31 million people without insurance by 2023. Those left out include undocumented workers and poor people living in the 21 states, such as Virginia, that have so far declined to expand Medicaid under the statute, commonly called Obamacare.
“The law will cut the number of the uninsured in half,” said Matthew Buettgens of the Urban Institute. “This is an important development, but it certainly isn’t the definition of universal.”
And, as the story continues, immigrants in the underclass dependent on welfare for their healthcare keep popping up:
On a recent Tuesday, the line for the lottery went around the block. It included a wide range of patients, including young children and the middle-aged who spoke English, Spanish, Arabic and Mandarin and other languages.
“I need a doctor for a lot of things,” said Ebtsam Ibrahim, a 46-year-old Egyptian woman and mother of four. She said she has had a toothache for two years but hasn’t seen a dentist because of the cost. She was trying for the third time to win the lottery.
Nazmun Nahar, a 33-year-old mother of three, arrived cradling her one-year-old daughter in her arms. She and her husband are Bangladeshi immigrants who became American citizens over a decade ago.
Because Nahar’s husband makes about $30,000 a year working at Subway, the family of five would likely qualify for generous subsidies to buy private health coverage under Obamacare. But like many of the lottery hopefuls, Nahar knew little about the law or how it would work.
By mid-morning, the winning lottery tickets had been selected for 28 participants. A beaming Ibrahim, the Egyptian mother, was among the winners. A husband and wife from Russia also won one ticket that day. Each insisted that the other be the first to take advantage of the free health care, moving some clinic staff members to tears.
And still more:
Vidal Grajeda, 68, a retired painter and landscaper who previously won a spot through the lottery, was with his wife, Nicolasa Grajeda, 64, who took part in the lottery but did not win.
I’m a patient and very grateful to the clinic,” he said. He doesn’t qualify for Medicare because he didn’t work long enough in the United States. At the clinic, he receives treatment for diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and knee problems. He asked the clinic’s director of clinical administration, Jody Steiner Kelly, whether the clinic will be open and working after Oct. 1, when people can start enrolling in coverage offered under Obamacare.
It appears that immigrants, some legal, others apparently illegal, are the major source of clients for the free clinics supported mostly exclusively by the taxpayers at either the State or Federal level. Just look at this photograph proudly displayed in the story.
A picture is truly worth a thousand words. Affordable healthcare for the millions of immigrants, legal and illegal, is going to be very expensive.