Fox News host Greg Jarrett has surprisingly given his backing to the notion of allowing undocumented immigrants to purchase health care.

During a discussion panel on the idea on Fox's Happening Now, Garrett quoted US House Rep. Mike Honda of California as saying, "Undocumented [immigrants], if they can afford it, should be able to buy their own private plans; it keeps them out of the emergency room."

Then Jarrett went on to agree with the idea, noting that emergency rooms already provide $10.7 billion-worth of health care to undocumented immigrants annually, and therefore allowing them to buy their own health care would reduce costs to taxpayers.

"First of all, the government isn’t going to pay for it," Jarrett said. "The illegals would have to pay for it themselves. We would simply allow them access to it. And second of all, taxpayers, in the long run, would save money. Now, I've got to tell you, I bet you most of our viewers right now are saying — wait, I can save money? That’s worth exploring."

"Your viewers are not saying that," retorted Karen Hanretty, a Republican communication strategist. "I guarantee you that if you went out there right now and polled the American public and said should we allow illegal immigrants to buy into a government health care program, there would be a resounding no throughout America. This is a political noose around the necks of Democrats."

"Taxpayers, in the long run, would save money," Scott insisted, though he acknowledged his opinion is in the minority.

"He may be outnumbered, but Jarrett is actually right," writes Andrea Nill at the Wonk Room. "[T]axpayers are already paying for undocumented immigrants to get health care, but in the least efficient way. Currently, sick undocumented immigrants (or anyone else who’s uninsured) have little recourse other than the emergency room. That means that minor and treatable conditions are neglected until the patient is at death’s door. It also means that taxpayers pay millions and millions of dollars for costly emergency visits that could have been prevented."

She adds: "If undocumented immigrants were allowed to participate in the exchange and purchase affordable private health insurance at full cost with their own money, it would also pool risks and lower the premiums of everyone else participating in the health care system."

This video is from Fox News' Happening Now, broadcast Sept. 28, 2009.

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