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Immigrants and health care reform

April 5, 2011
Plain English Version

Should government health care cover legal immigrants? Congress is debating the question. To be on Medicare or Medicaid legal immigrants have to be in the United States for five years. Some Republican plans want immigrants to wait five years before they can receive government-supported health care.
More than one million legal residents with no health insurance are in the U.S. The largest numbers of immigrants are in California, Florida, New York and Texas.
No plans allow illegal immigrants to get government health care. Under the plans, all immigrants would still have to buy health insurance.
Another debate is over identification. Most plans use a simple proof, such as a driver’s license or Social Security card. Others want to add a document that shows immigration or citizenship.
Many doctors say plans that keep immigrants from using health care will add to the number of people who are ill and do not go to doctors.

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