John Gregory -- Illinois Radio Network

A new bill in Congress would allow undocumented immigrants to purchase health insurance on the exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act.

Introduced by U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, the legislation would allow undocumented immigrants to buy coverage on the exchanges if they've established residency in a state and file taxes. Gutierrez says he had fought to include undocumented immigrants in the original law, and some Republicans have claimed they were included.

"As it stands right now, undocumented immigrants are not subject to the individual mandate and cannot buy into the health insurance exchanges, even if they use their own money. My legislation will change that. It says we stand for inclusion," Gutierrez said.

Undocumented immigrants would also have access to federal subsidies for insurance if they qualify. Gutierrez argues the bill could help bring down the cost of plans offered on the exchange.

"As a nation, we all benefit when we spread the risk (and) invite younger, healthier workers to join our exchanges," Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez says his bill would also extend the health care law's individual mandate to undocumented immigrants, compelling them to purchase insurance if it's not provided by an employer or face fines.

It would also allow them to receive federal subsidies for buying insurance, should they qualify for such assistance.

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