WASHINGTON—The National Health Law Program welcomed yesterday’s introduction of the Health Equity and Access under the Law (HEAL) for Immigrant Women and Families Act. The bill, introduced by Rep. Lujan Grisham, would undo harmful restrictions and restore access to health care for lawfully present immigrants who are otherwise eligible.
“Equity and good health policy demand that immigrants and their families have the same opportunity to live healthy lives and access quality care they can rely on,” said Emily Spitzer, NHeLP executive director. “The HEAL for Immigrant Women and Families Act would help do just that by taking down legal barriers that have often stood in the way of good health.”
Current federal law bars the majority of lawfully present immigrants from the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance programs for five years or more, forcing individuals to delay life-saving care. The bill would remove this legal roadblock. It would also allow lawfully present young people known as “DREAMers” who received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status to become eligible for affordable coverage under the Affordable Care Act. These advances are particularly important for immigrant women, who are disproportionately of reproductive age, low-income and lacking health insurance.
NHeLP strongly supports access to affordable, quality health care for all and has worked to improve access and dismantle legal barriers to care for decades. Immigrant women and families experience a number of health disparities, many caused by insufficient access to affordable health care and insurance. Immigrants work hard, pay taxes, and contribute to our communities and our economy. Federal policies should not bar them from participating in the health programs they help to support. It is in the nation’s interest to have everyone insured with equal access to quality care.
NHeLP joined nearly 200 organizations in a strong letter of support, urging lawmakers to pass the bill.
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