Menendez: Illegal immigrants should be able to buy health insurance from exchanges

Undocumented immigrants should be able to purchase insurance from health insurance exchanges with their own money, not federal dollars, Sen. Robert Menendez (D.N.J.) said Thursday. 

Menendez said that allowing illegal immigrants to buy insurance from the exchanges would help reduce insurance premiums and other healthcare costs because they would no longer have to use emergency rooms to get care.

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The Senate bill currently does not permit undocumented immigrants to purchase insurance from the exchange.

"If they use their own money to purchase insurance without any taxpayer subsidy, it would make a lot of sense to offer that possibility," he said on ABC's "Top Line" webcast.

Menendez stressed that undocumented immigrants should not have access to federal subsidies to purchase healthcare. Legal immigrants are allowed to purchase from the exchange and receive federal subsidies. 

Menendez aide Afshin Mohamadi told The Hill that he does not have any plans to introduce an amendment to include undocumented immigrants in the exchange. The senator has, however, been outspoken on the issue.

The insurance exchanges under the Senate bill would be established by individual states to facilitate the purchase of qualified health insurance plans.