Vermont Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' newly-unveiled healthcare bill, dubbed "Medicare-for-all," will extend US healthcare benefits to everyone, including illegal migrants, according to Fox News.
The bill, introduced by Sanders this week, did not reference immigrants directly, but clearly stated it would cover all US "residents." The bill has received the support of Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
The bill is intended to be a major step beyond the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), which limits its effect to those who are US citizens, nationals and "lawfully present immigrants."
"My plan would cover every US resident," Sanders explained to The Washington Post on 9 April.
While the two bills are likely to be rejected by most Republicans in the Senate, Sanders' bill has caught some flak from a handful of Democrats as well, according to Fox. In particular, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) suggested in February that the Vermont Senator's plan may not be "as good a benefit as the Affordable Care Act."
"It doesn't have catastrophic [coverage] — you have to go buy it. It doesn't have dental. It's not as good as the plans that you can buy under the Affordable Care Act," she told Rolling Stone. "And by the way, how's it gonna be paid for?"
As The Hill's Dr. Marc Siegel notes, "when you mention the cost of transition to the taxpayer, it instantly becomes less popular." The cost of "Medicare-for-all" is estimated at an astonishing $30 trillion over a period of ten years, according to Business Insider.
"Now, how do you pay for that?" Pelosi queried.
Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro unveiled an idea to remove criminal penalties for illegal immigration, making it instead a civil infraction, a reversal of Section 1325 of the Immigration and Nationality Act introduced by President George W. Bush that would introduce small monetary fines as a means of curbing an influx of illegal immigrants.
Kirsten Gillibrand, another Dem candidate for the 2020 US presidential elections, suggested extending Social Security to illegal immigrants as a part of "comprehensive immigration reform." Both Gillibrand and Castro advocate a "path to citizenship" for those who cross the US border illegally.
"First, we need comprehensive immigration reform," Gillibrand said last month. "If you are in this country now you must have the right to pay into Social Security, to pay your taxes, to pay into the local school system and to have a pathway to citizenship. That must happen."