All candidates raise hands on giving health care to undocumented immigrants

All 10 Democratic presidential candidates on the debate stage raised their hands when asked whether their health plans will provide coverage for undocumented immigrants, a controversial idea that could dramatically expand the pool of people needing government subsidies.

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg was the first to defend the concept, arguing that a federal program providing health coverage to undocumented migrants would not significantly add to the deficit.{mosads}

“Our country is healthier when everybody is healthier. And remember we’re talking about something people are given a chance to buy into. In the same way that there are undocumented immigrants in my community who pay — they pay sales taxes, they pay property taxes, directly or indirectly — this is not about a hand out. This is an insurance program and we do no favors by having 11 million undocumented people in our country be unable to access health care,” he said.

NBC moderator Savannah Guthrie pressed former Vice President Joe Biden on the subject after failing to see that he raised his hand with the other candidates.

When asked by Guthrie if he would provide federally supported health coverage to undocumented immigrants, Biden quickly corrected her.

“You cannot let people who are sick, no matter where they come from, no matter what their status, go uncovered. You can’t do that. It’s just going to be taken care of. Period. You have to. It’s the humane thing to do,” he insisted.

Biden also argued that bringing illegal residents into a national health care program they could help defray costs by adding wage earners to the pool of covered people.

“Number one, they in fact contribute to the wellbeing of the country but they also, for example, they increase the lifespan of Social Security,” he said, alluding to concerns that Social Security will run out of money because of baby boomers dropping out of the work force.

“They would do the same thing in terms of reducing the overall cost of health care by them being able to be treated and not wait until they’re in extremis,” Biden said.

Tags Joe Biden Pete Buttigieg

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