President Obama was blasted by a top Latino ally on Monday for modifying his health-care plan in the face of conservative criticism.
The criticism was leveled in Spanish by Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Democrat from Illinois who was the first Latino member of Congress to endorse Barack Obama for president.
Referring to the Obama administration, Gutierrez said: "Those who should be our friends, our allies, are more and more giving Rep. (Joe) Wilson, R-S.C., exactly what he wants to continue with this prejudice against our community."
Gutierrez, who made his remarks in Washington, D.C., while participating in a panel discussion on immigration reform sponsored by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, was incensed by the Obama administration's announcement over the weekend that it was going to bar undocumented workers from participating in the health insurance exchange.
The exchange, as envisioned by Obama, is a marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for insurance at competitive prices. As one big group, those in the exchange will have greater leverage to bargain with the insurance companies.
Without access to either the exchange, or employer-provided group coverage, experts think it will be very difficult for anyone to afford insurance. This, in turn, could lead the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants to rely more heavily than ever on expensive emergency room care whose costs are then shifted to the government as well as to individuals who have private insurance. [Latino Lawmaker Rips Obama for Making It Harder for Illegals to Buy Private Insurance, September 15, 2009 ]
Of course, anything can happen in the Democrat-run conference committee behind closed doors if Obamacare gets to that point.