Immigrants Have Contributed Billions More to Medicare Than They Have Taken

In addition to the moral arguments for immigration reform, the practical arguments keep adding up. The potential economic boost, the increased tax revenue and the contributions to the housing market (to name a few) all make a compelling case on economic grounds to naturalize the 11 million undocumented immigrants already living in the U.S. A new study on Medicare adds another layer to the argument by showing immigrants already contribute more to the program than they benefit from it - a trend that will become more pronounced as more immigrants are poised to contribute to the economy.

From the Austin American-Statesman:

"[A new] study, led by researchers at Harvard Medical School, measured immigrants' contributions to the part of Medicare that pays for hospital care, a trust fund that accounts for nearly half of the federal program's revenue. It found that immigrants generated surpluses totaling $115 billion from 2002 to 2009. In comparison, the American-born population incurred a deficit of $28 billion over the same period.

The findings shed light on what demographers have long known: Immigrants are crucial in balancing the age structure of American society, providing an infusion of young, working-age adults who support the country's aging population and help cover the costs of Medicare and Social Security. And with the largest generation in the United States, the baby boomers, now starting to retire, the financial help from immigrants has never been more needed, experts said."

Anti-immigrant rhetoric accuses immigrants of exploiting the advantages of an economy to which they don't contribute.  Ted Cruz, for instance, who has vowed to vote against any immigration bill that includes a path to citizenship, said in an interview, "I think integral to remaining a nation that doesn't just welcome but celebrates legal immigrants is ensuring that those who come here are coming because they want to work towards the American dream and provide for their families and not be dependent on means-tested welfare."

It must come as a surprise to Ted Cruz that immigrants are actually helping American citizens access the 'welfare' on which he claims immigrants are dependent - and that allowing immigrants to more fully participate in our economy might actually be key to addressing our looming Medicare and Social Security crises.  

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