By Sarah Ferris - 10/13/15 10:45 PM EDT
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonUSA Today in scathing editorial: Trump is 'unfit for the presidency' Obama administration officials ramp up push for Pacific pact Trump says Merkel 'great' leader, is 'disappointed' in refugee position MORE said Tuesday that undocumented immigrants should be able to buy into ObamaCare, after telling Congress a decade ago that the population should not receive any healthcare benefits.
The front-runner for the party's 2016 nomination said for the first time during the debate that individuals in the country illegally should be allowed onto the ObamaCare exchanges, though she argued that they should not receive subsidies under the law.
The remarks offer a sharp contrast with her previous views on healthcare for the undocumented population, which she laid out during a 1994 testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“We do not think the comprehensive healthcare benefits should be extended to those who are undocumented workers and illegal aliens. We do not want to do anything to encourage more illegal immigration into this country. We know now that too many people come in for medical care, as it is. We certainly don’t want them having the same benefits that American citizens are entitled to have,” the then-first lady said, according to a clip of the hearing that surfaced Tuesday night thanks to a conservative healthcare policy expert, Chris Jacobs.
Clinton announced her stance during a back-and-forth with former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who said the healthcare law should be applied to undocumented immigrants.
The result would be an expansion of ObamaCare that has so far been dismissed by nearly all governors and state legislatures. Only California is currently working to give undocumented immigrants the rights to the ObamaCare marketplace.
Clinton said, responding to O'Malley's position, that she could not support providing subsidies to immigrants in the country illegally because of the complicated economics.
"That raises so many issues. It needs to be part of comprehensive immigration reform," she said.
When former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) was asked if he supported allowing undocumented immigrants access to ObamaCare, he gave a more tepid response.
"I wouldn't have a problem with that," Webb said.