What’s Wrong With Taxpayers Financing HealthCare For Unauthorized Immigrants?


Last month I discussed how American taxpayers are paying $18.5 Billion to finance the healthcare of illegal (unauthorized) immigrants, according to the work of Duke University economist, Chris Conover. (How Taxpayers Finance Healthcare For Unauthorized Immigrants) Today, we’ll discuss Conover’s four reasons why this is a bad idea.

  • Federal tax financing is unconstitutional
  • Federal tax financing is unnecessary
  • Federal tax financing is immoral
  • Federal tax financing is inefficient


Federal Tax Financing is Unconstitutional

This is a simple argument. There just is nowhere in the Constitution that authorizes or requires Congress to appropriate funds for this purpose. Since all federal funding requires Congressional appropriation, any such funding is unconstitutional.

In fact, Medicaid and ObamaCare expressly forbid funding of healthcare for illegal immigrants – though it happens anyway. The prime example of this is in the State of California where the Health For Kids Act allows state Medicaid funds to be used for healthcare for unauthorized immigrant children.

Federal Tax Financing is Unnecessary

Since Federal taxpayers finance $11.2 Billion of the $18.5 Billion needed to cover healthcare for unauthorized immigrants, state and local governments would need to pick up this additional expense if federal dollars were excluded. Conover says this would only require a 0.2% increase in state and local taxes – a nominal additional amount.

Having state and local governments pick up the tab would be a good thing since it would incentivize them to be more efficient in the spending of these dollars. It would encourage innovative thinking to lower expenses and improve efficiency and quality of care.

Voters in each state could determine their willingness to provide such care and this would likely lead to redistribution of residents according to the election results. This is currently happening as a result of the new changes in the Trump Tax code. Voters have already shown wide variations in their willingness to pay for expanded Medicaid under ObamaCare.

Federal Tax Financing is Immoral

One way of financing healthcare for unauthorized immigrants might be charitable donations. But if such funding proved inadequate, would we consider it moral to seize the same money involuntarily from American taxpayers? We don’t consider it moral to force taxpayers to pay for abortions, so why should they pay for healthcare for illegal immigrants?

There is a prevailing attitude among some Americans that we are obligated to provide the same standard of living to the rest of the world that we enjoy here in America. Such people are welcoming the caravan of illegal immigrants storming our southern borders in California as I write these words.

But America cannot take on the troubles of the whole world lest we have the same troubles here in our own country. Conover says, “A claim that Americans have some sort of obligation to level up the entire world to the same standard of care as we are willing to provide to our poorest citizens, i.e., those on Medicaid, is fiscally untenable. Medicaid spending per enrollee was $5,736 four years ago. That’s only about 71% of overall U.S. health spending per capita. But more than 70 percent of the world’s population live in nations with health spending per capita below 10 percent of U.S. levels. Ten percent of U.S. levels in 2014 would be $800. Even if we assumed the U.S. spent twice what it needed to on Medicaid, closing the gap between America’s poor and the rest of the world in terms of healthcare would imply spending about $2,000 per person for 4.9 billion people. That would be 9.8 Trillion dollars – more than half the nation’s GDP in 2014.”

In other words, we literally can’t afford it! Taking on a debt you can’t afford to pay is immoral itself.

Federal Tax Financing is Inefficient

Some might argue that collecting taxes to pay for the $11.2 Billion in federal financing of unauthorized immigrant healthcare is more efficient than increasing charitable giving. But Conover points out the fallacy of this argument. He says that there is a 44 cents/dollar expense collecting federal taxes. If the federal government was considered a charity, in the parlance of CharityWatch, the federal government would be given an efficiency rating of D.

In other words, the federal government is very inefficient about the way they collect and spend your taxes. Surprise! There are many charitable organizations that could do the same job much more efficiently – and therefore more cheaply.

If we want to provide charitable donations to support a cause we believe in we can always do so without government intrusion. Support for the victims of hurricanes is a prime example. But federal taxpayers’ dollars shouldn’t be used to support programs or people who are breaking the laws of the same government.

One comment

  1. Again, thanks and keep the interesting and thoughtful blogs coming. David Godfrey

    Comment by David R. Godfrey on May 17, 2018 at 1:12 pm