Health Care and Immigration: The View from the White House

By Jerry Kammer and Jerry Kammer on March 15, 2010

There was an interesting exchange yesterday between White House senior adviser David Axelrod and reporter Candy Crowley on CNN's program, "State of the Union." (See it here, starting at 1:55.) It begins with a question from Crowley about a statement from Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois:

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CROWLEY: A new thing has come up, at least a new old thing, from Congressman Gutierrez. I want to read it to you. "It's no secret that I have been critical of proposals that would exclude our nation's hard-working immigrants from the health care exchange, and I would find it extremely difficult if not impossible to vote for any measure that denies undocumented workers health care purchased with their own dollars." Again, Democrat Congressman Luis Gutierrez. Is the president OK with a provision in the Senate bill which refuses to allow undocumented workers to buy with their own money health care insurance?

AXELROD: Well, first of all, understand, legal immigrants will be eligible for the exchange. The president's view, and he's expressed it to Congressman Gutierrez and others, is that this is not the vehicle through which to address our immigration issue.

CROWLEY: Might you address it in the immigration bill?

AXELROD: Well, obviously, if we resolve the status of the undocumented workers here, then the issue will be a nonissue. But this is not the place for this, nor is it the place to resolve the disputes over abortion. And the president's view on that was, let's not change the law, let's leave it exactly as it is, and that's what the bill does. So I believe that as the week goes on, these issues will clarify themselves. And we will be able to put together a coalition to pass this.

CROWLEY: So you might do a fix in an immigration bill, by bringing them into the system and making them --

AXELROD: Once -- we have to resolve the larger question, which is the status of undocumented workers in this country. And that's another complicated issue. But we can't resolve it within the context of this debate.

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Topics: Health Care