WASHINGTON -- The House's health care reform bill runs 1,990 pages and. It's filled with gullies and eddies of arcane, cryptic language that are hard to understand.
But one of the chief architects of the measure wants to be clear about one provision: "No government funds will be used to pay for illegal immigrants to get health care coverage," said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA).
Waxman points out that the Democrats' health care reform bill unveiled Thursday contains a "verification status" check if anyone is to receive any federal health care subsides.
But there's a distinction between illegal immigrants being eligible for government-run components of the health care legislation versus what they would be permitted to purchase from private insurance providers.
"Yes," exclaimed Waxman when a reporter asked the California Democrat if he personally thought illegal immigrants should be permitted to purchase health insurance. "Can they buy a car? They're people doing business in the U.S."
Coverage for illegal immigrants is one of the most vexing questions in the health care reform debate . But from Waxman's vantage point, it's alright for illegal immigrants to participate in the proposed health care reform regime, so long as their care isn't subsidized.
"Should an illegal immigrant be allowed to drive down the Dulles Toll Road, paid for by federal dollars?" Waxman asked, referring to a major highway that links the nation's capital with Dulles International Airport in suburban Virginia. "Should illegal immigrants be allowed to buy health insurance from a private insurance company?"
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) says he expects the House of Representatives to vote on the health care reform bill no earlier than Thursday, November 5.