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Mar-13-2014 11:14printcomments

NILC Praises Proposed Health Equity and Access under the Law (HEAL)

“Our national leaders must commit to providing quality care for everyone..." - Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center

Immigration rally

(WASHINGTON DC) - The National Immigration Law Center applauds legislation introduced by Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham and cosponsored by Reps. Donna Christensen, Barbara Lee, Marcia Fudge, Eleanor Norton, Luis Gutierrez, Lucille Roybal-Allard, and Marc Veasey that would remove harmful and discriminatory barriers that now prohibit immigrants from participating in health care programs that their tax dollars support.

The Health Equity and Access under the Law (HEAL) for Immigrant Women and Families Act would undo poor policy that currently prevents many immigrants who are authorized to live and work in the U.S., pay taxes, and contribute to our communities from accessing affordable health coverage.

The HEAL Act would restore eligibility for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to immigrants who are lawfully present without making them endure the current five-year waiting period. The bill also would allow young people who have permission to be in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to participate in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace and apply for premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions. Under this measure, eligible DACA participants also could apply for Medicaid or CHIP.

The following is a statement by Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“While congressional conservatives try to dismantle Obamacare and keep immigrants from accessing programs that their tax dollars support, Rep. Lujan Grisham and others have offered an idea that would improve our health care system by making affordable care accessible to millions of immigrants who are currently left out.

“Current law defies logic. A flu virus strikes without regard to how long a person has had lawful status. Lack of preventive health care results in costly illnesses and thwarts early detection of preventable diseases. Children cannot grow up to be strong and productive if they have limited health care.

“The existing policies also are inhumane. The arbitrary five-year waiting period for accessing key health programs, as well as other restrictions, were put in place by politicians intent on denying immigrants access to the programs that immigrants’ tax dollars support. Yet having to wait five years for diagnosis and treatment can be a death sentence for someone suffering from an undiagnosed cancer.

“Our national leaders must commit to providing quality care for everyone, including the most vulnerable in our society, for the good of our communities and our economy. No one should be denied access to affordable health care based on income or immigration status. We applaud the legislation and look forward to its consideration.”

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