Doctor Schools GOP Congresswoman About ‘Free Health Care’ for ‘Illegals’ at Medicare for All Hearing


Arizona Republican Congresswoman Debbie Lesko complained about Medicare for All giving “free health care” to “illegals,” but Emergency Room Dr. Farzon Nahvi repeatedly schooled her by pointing out that undocumented immigrants already get taxpayer-funded health care for free at emergency rooms, thanks to Ronald Reagan.

At a House Rules Committee hearing on Medicare for All Tuesday, Lesko began by asking Republican minority witness Dr. Charles Blahous “Will this bill provide free health care for illegal immigrants?”

Blahous — who authored a report on Medicare for All for the conservative American Enterprise Institute — replied that “The bill I analyzed indicates that the benefits would be provided for every resident of the United States, and it’s left to the secretary of HHS to basically promulgate regulations that define who a resident is,” and that “there’s nothing in the legislation that excludes the undocumented immigrants from receiving benefits, so am I working assumption is that they would be eligible for benefits, yes.”

Lesko then said that she comes “from a district where the number one concern is border security and illegal immigration,” and that “my constituents, and I would guess the majority of citizens in the United States, would not feel happy that they are going to be forced to pay for illegals that are aren’t citizens’ free health care.”

Dr. Nahvi asked to be recognized, and then told Lesko that “regarding undocumented immigrants, we’re already providing care for them for free in the most expensive way possible.”

“They’re coming to the ER because of that 1986 law signed by Ronald Reagan, and they’re getting care, and no one can stop them, and it’s the most expensive place to get it,” he added, referring to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act of 1986, which guarantees access to emergency services, regardless of ability to pay.

“Medicare for all would provide such that these patients, who are already getting care, would just get that care in a more fiscally responsible way, at the primary care doctor’s office,” the doctor explained.

“I thank you for your testimony, but most people in the United States are not going to voluntarily want to be paying for illegal immigrants’ free healthcare, and so there’s a difference between people coming here illegally and showing up in the ER,” Lesko replied, then wandered away from her point by adding “and by the way we have a huge crisis at the border, and I hope I’m going to introduce several pieces of legislation, and I hope that Republicans and Democrats will get more than realize we have a crisis at the border. And we have to mitigate it.”

“But I can tell you, I go to a lot of different meetings in my district, and quite frankly throughout the state, and there’s not going to be anybody happy about paying their taxes for free health care for illegal immigrants,” Lesko concluded.

“But it’s not about ideology, we’re already doing that,” Dr. Nahvi said. “The only difference would be we would save money, and doing the same thing that we’re doing now.”

“Well, we can debate this point, obviously we disagree, but I can tell you I’ve heard loud and clear from people consistently they do not want their taxes going to pay for free health care for illegal immigrants,” Lesko said.

According to an analysis published by Forbes, American taxpayers subsidize uncompensated care for undocumented immigrants to the tune of $18 billion a year. Those taxpayer happen to include a large number of undocumented immigrants.

Watch the clip above, via C-SPAN.

Have a tip we should know?

Filed Under: