Introduction of the HEAL Act Calls for Restoration of Health Care for Immigrant Families

Introduction of the HEAL Act Calls for Restoration of Health Care for Immigrant Families

Bill Extends Medicaid and CHIP to Lawfully Present Immigrants

WASHINGTON—Today, the National Health Law Program released the following statement in support of the Health Equity and Access under the Law for Immigrant Women and Families Act of 2015 (HEAL). The bill, introduced by Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (HI), would undo harmful restrictions and restore access to health care for lawfully present immigrants who are otherwise eligible. The Senate bill follows H.R. 1974, which was introduced by Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01) in the House of Representatives in April.

“Immigrant families should have access to quality, reliable health care and be able to live healthy lives,” said Elizabeth G. Taylor, executive director of NHeLP. “HEAL would restore vital parts of our health care delivery system, including Medicaid—the lifeline for millions of low-income families across the country—along with the Children’s Health Insurance Program to lawfully present immigrants.”

Current federal law bars the majority of lawfully present immigrants from Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) 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, and all those granted deferred action, to qualify without exception for affordable coverage in the marketplaces, Medicaid and CHIP. These advances are particularly important for immigrant women, who are disproportionately of reproductive age, low-income and lack 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 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.

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