Every Democratic presidential candidate onstage at the second night of the debate raised their hand when asked if they would extend health care coverage to undocumented immigrants.
The issue is sure to become a flashpoint in the presidential race. Immediately after the candidates said insurance should cover undocumented immigrants, President Donald Trump tweeted about it.
“All Democrats just raised their hands for giving millions of illegal aliens unlimited health care. How about taking care of American Citizens first!?” Trump tweeted.
The support from these presidential candidates is a departure from current law. The Affordable Care Act does not provide insurance to undocumented immigrants, forcing them to seek care through emergency rooms, which drives up health care costs.
“Our country is healthier when everybody is healthier,” mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg said. “There are undocumented citizens in my community who pay — they pay sales taxes, they pay property taxes directly or indirectly. This is not about a handout, this is an insurance program.”
“We do ourselves no favor by having 11 million undocumented people in our country be unable to access health care,” he added.
Former vice president Joe Biden, who helped implement the Affordable Care Act under the Obama Administration, agreed with Buttigieg’s point.
“You cannot let, as the mayor said, people who are sick — no matter where they come from, no matter what their status — go uncovered. You can’t do that,” Biden said. “They contribute to the well-being of the country, but they also, for example, increase the lifespan of Social Security because they have a job and they’re paying a Social Security tax, that’s what they’re doing — increasing the lifespan. They would do the same thing in reducing the overall costs of health care.”