Cornyn Challenger Supports Providing Health Care to Illegal Immigrants

'I am going to be extending Medicare availability for everybody'

MJ Hegar/ Getty Images
July 31, 2019

Mary Jennings "MJ" Hegar, who is attempting to unseat Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas), told reporters in Dallas last week that she supports providing health care benefits to illegal immigrants.

Hegar, who ran unsuccessfully against Rep. John Carter (R., Texas) in 2018, was asked whether she agrees with 2020 Democratic presidential candidates who raised their hands at the first debate in support of government providing health insurance to undocumented immigrants.

"I don't think we should be asking these very high-level, one-question questions that have people raise their hand but no context and no details, because right now when somebody walks into an emergency room, we don't ask them what their citizenship status is or anything like that," Hegar said.

"For us to be able to be healthy as a society, going to school with each other, serving each other food and things like that. So I am going to be extending Medicare availability for everybody. I want to preserve choice," Hegar continued. "I want people who want to keep their private insurance, which I don't think will be many people, especially when they start to compare to see how great Medicare is. I want people to be able to choose that option though."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D., N.Y) political action committee, Impact, gave two $5,000 donations to Hegar's campaign, which is is the maximum amount that she can receive from the PAC during this election cycle.

Hegar, a former Air Force helicopter pilot, was endorsed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as a "Red to Blue" candidate in 2018 and received thousands of dollars during the last election cycle from several PACs associated with House Democrats, including Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), Jim Clyburn (S.C.), and Cheri Bustos (Ill.), who is currently serving as the DCCC chairwoman. Clyburn and Jeffries are also currently part of the House Democratic leadership.

The Democratic position on providing health insurance to illegal immigrants has changed since Barack Obama was president. Back in 2009, he said the Affordable Care Act wouldn't cover illegal immigrants. Many Democratic presidential candidates today support extending Medicare coverage to illegal immigrants. Former vice president Joe Biden said the U.S. government has an "obligation" to provide health care coverage to undocumented and documented immigrants. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) similarly addressed the issue of illegal immigration and health care. Sanders said that his Medicare for All plan would "absolutely" cover the 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the United States.

Hegar is one of five Democrats running to challenge Cornyn.