California Democratic Rep. Sam Farr said not all illegal immigrants in the United States work low-paying jobs, and therefore should be granted the opportunity to buy insurance off the Obamacare exchanges Wednesday.
House Democrats are advocating for President Barack Obama to sign a waiver, which is expected to be submitted next week, allowing the Golden State to extend access to illegal immigrants. Advocates argue the change wouldn’t be federally subsidized or affect taxpayers since they would be fully responsible for paying for their own plans.
Despite the high cost of health plans, Farr said he’s met a number of illegal immigrants who can afford to purchase insurance.
“Not everyone who is undocumented is poor. Some are making $33, $34 an hour as strawberry pickers – so don’t assume that every undocumented won’t find a way to be able to cover this,” he told reporters. “What we’re saying here is give them a chance, let the marketplace decide.”
Language in the Affordable Care Act prohibits illegal immigrants from purchasing health insurance through the exchanges, but proponents of the change are looking to use the waiver allowing states to make changes as long as it doesn’t increase costs.
“Not every person is going to be able to buy into it, we’re aware of that,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren said. “But for people who can scrape together the money to but into it, this is going to be good for them and good for the state.
The Democrat-led proposal is a sharp contrast from GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s policy agenda.
Trump has been a strong advocate of immigration reform, arguing foreign workers are taking American jobs and reducing wages. The Republican presidential hopeful recently slammed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s immigration plan, saying extending government programs and subsidies to illegal immigrants will lead to an increase in the deficit.
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