Washington, DC – The National Health Law Program strongly believes that everyone should have equitable and affordable access to health care, regardless of how long they have been in the United States or their immigration status. Ending the 5-year bar on Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and other public benefits is one of the most critical actions that Congress should take to advance health equity for communities of color and begin to dismantle racism and xenophobia in U.S. health and social policy. NHeLP urges Congress to pass the Lift the Bar Act of 2021.
Viruses don’t discriminate, but the 5-year bar does
“Throughout my work at NHeLP and as a community lawyer in Mississippi, I have come to know the 5-year bar as a deeply racist and xenophobic force that fuels health and reproductive injustice across our country,” said NHeLP staff attorney Madeline Morcelle during a recent congressional briefing. The inequities created by the 5-year bar have been more acute and evident over the last year. “Without access to health care and other basic human needs, many immigrants of color in Mississippi and around the country—parents, caregivers, essential workers, backbones of communities—have died during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Morcelle continued. “Viruses don’t discriminate, but the 5-year bar does.”
The National Health Law Program thanks Representatives Pramila Jayapal and Tony Cárdenas for introducing the Lift the Bar Act and calls on Congress to quickly pass it and the related HEAL for Immigrant Families Act. It is time to lift the bar.