In an op-ed, published Tuesday in the New York Times, the Cardinal says current health care bills falls short in three areas: the prohibition of federal money for abortions, the inclusion of provisions to ensure affordability, and the defense of immigrants’ rights to healthcare.
But he focuses his concerns on immigrants and what he describes as the “lack of adequate health care for immigrants who live in our midst but who do not yet have legal standing.”
Mahony points out that the Senate bill bars illegal immigrants from using even their own money to buy health insurance in the government-sponsored marketplace. The House bill allows illegal immigrants to purchase health insurance from the government-sponsored program, if they use their own money and receive no federal subsidy.
Both he says, have problems.
"When undocumented immigrants are intentionally excluded from health care coverage, they are forced to go to the only place where they will be accepted for care: trauma centers and emergency rooms — the most expensive health care delivery systems in the country. What a foolish waste of money, particularly in a time of economic stress for everyone. "
"...Using their own money, undocumented immigrants could receive basic health services through less expensive community clinics and doctors’ offices…And by paying into the system, immigrants would make health care less pricey for all by spreading the risks and costs among a larger pool of participants."
Mahony says that at least the House bill allows undocumented immigrants to purchase health insurance from the proposed exchange. But he says the Senate bill takes the country in the "opposite direction and needs to be changed."
"How is the health of the entire country helped when the Senate will not even allow immigrants to use their own money to purchase their health insurance?"
Read the full op-ed here.