WASHINGTON—Today, the National Health Law Program released the following statement in support of the reintroduction 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.
“Everyone deserves access to health care, no matter your immigration status,” said Elizabeth G. Taylor, NHeLP executive director. “This is good legislation that removes barriers that currently prevent immigrant women and families from accessing the health care they need.”
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.