Not even with their own money

NOT EVEN WITH THEIR OWN MONEY…. The Democratic line on health care reform and undocumented immigrants was reasonable enough: people who entered the country illegally would be ineligible for public subsidies to purchase coverage, but what they bought with their own money is their business. As Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) helped prove this week, this wasn’t good enough for some right-wing activists.

It led to a flurry of activity on Thursday and Friday. Sens. Kent Conrad and Max Baucus signaled their intention to block illegal immigrants from even buying insurance with their own money through a public exchange. Conrad later walked it back. Yesterday afternoon, the White House weighed in — and made the wrong call.

The White House on Friday said it would bar illegal immigrants from purchasing health coverage through a proposed insurance marketplace. But the administration also said that the federal government would continue to require hospitals to provide emergency treatment to illegal immigrants at taxpayer expense. […]

A White House spokesman, Reid Cherlin, said that the president’s proposals would bar illegal immigrants from purchasing private insurance through the new government marketplace, known as an exchange, and that verification of immigration status would be required for anyone seeking to purchase coverage. […]

The White House position could draw a backlash from advocates for immigrants.

I should hope so. Preventing people who are already here from buying their own insurance with their own money is wildly unnecessary.

It’s likely that the White House wants to convince the public that undocumented workers won’t benefit from a reform package, but let’s not lose sight of the political realities here — the folks who oppose reform because they hate “illegals” are going to oppose reform anyway. It’s not as if a Joe Wilson fan is going to wake up this morning and say, “Oh, illegal immigrants will be excluded from exchanges? In that case, I approve of the Democrats’ reform plan.”