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July 31, 2023

Barragán, Jayapal, Booker Introduce Legislation to Lift Barriers to Health Care for Immigrants

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                     

31 July 2023

Contact: Kevin McGuire, 202-538-2386 (mobile)

WASHINGTON –Last week, Congresswoman Nanette Barragán (CA-44) joined Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in introducing the Health Equity and Access under Law (HEAL) for Immigrant Families Act, bicameral legislation that removes cruel and unnecessary barriers to health care for immigrants of all statuses. The bill would allow states to include undocumented immigrants in Medicaid and CHIP and remove the 5-year waiting period for Medicare benefits for lawfully-present immigrants.

“Every person deserves healthcare, no matter their immigration status,” said Rep. Barragán. “Healthcare is a human right, and we must remove the unnecessary barriers that prevent immigrant families from the medical care they need to live and thrive.  The HEAL Act will help reduce racial health inequities and ensure everyone has access to quality healthcare in their communities.”  

“We must finally guarantee health care to everyone as a human right — regardless of immigration status, income, employment, or anything else,” said Rep. Jayapal. “As a proud immigrant who came to this country alone at the age of 16, I know that the HEAL Act is an urgent, necessary, and just first step to eliminating senseless barriers to health care, making our communities healthier, and ensuring all immigrants get the care they need.”

“Everyone, regardless of their immigration status, deserves access to comprehensive, quality health care,” said Senator Booker. “By creating a more equitable health care system, we can create healthier communities and a stronger, more resilient economy.” 

Immigrants are significantly more likely than U.S. Citizens to be uninsured, leaving them at a higher risk for both adverse health and financial consequences. In 2024, immigrants will account for an estimated 8 percent of the population yet will make up a disproportionate 31 percent of the non-elderly uninsured population.

The HEAL for Immigrant Families Act provides solutions that will: 

  • Remove unnecessary barriers to health care access for immigrant families; 
  • Provide access to public and affordable health coverage for Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients; 
  • Provide access to Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to lawfully present immigrants without a five-year waiting period if they would otherwise qualify for the programs; 
  • Allow undocumented immigrants to purchase health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace and obtain premium-tax credits and cost-sharing reductions; and
  • Allow states the option to expand Medicaid and CHIP programs to undocumented immigrants.

“In the past year we’ve seen people’s freedom to make their own decisions about their bodies and lives come under constant attack. Latinos/xs often bear the brunt of extreme policies that rob us of the tools we need to stay healthy,” said Lupe M. Rodríguez, Executive Director, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice. “It’s time for real, sustained change. We need the HEAL for Immigrant Families Act to support families and individuals to thrive and live with health, dignity and justice. All of us, regardless of documentation status, should have access to the health care services we need so that we can take care of ourselves and our families. This is one step in the direction to get us there and we celebrate the sponsors of this bill for their courage and leadership.”

“For too long, restrictive and discriminatory health care and immigration policy in the United States has limited immigrant access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance,” said Isra Pananon Weeks, Interim Executive Director and Chief of Staff, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF). “Many immigrants who lack access to insurance often delay or forgo preventive or primary care. The HEAL for Immigrant Families Act is the bold change we are calling for to create healthier communities and help immigrants get the care they need by removing burdensome and unnecessary restrictions to accessing health insurance, barriers that force immigrants to choose between quality care and prohibitively expensive out-of-pocket costs.”

“No matter how much money we have, what we look like, or where we were born, all of us should have access to the tools and supports we need to live healthy lives,” said Kica Matos, president of the National Immigration Law Center. “For too long, many of our community members have been denied affordable health care because of their immigration status. We are grateful to Rep. Jayapal for reintroducing the HEAL Act, which is an important step in remedying this longstanding injustice, and we strongly urge Congress to pass it without delay.” 

“Everyone should have access to health care coverage, regardless of their immigration status or where they were born. Barring immigrants and their families from accessing preventative health care or potentially life-saving services harms them, and all of our communities,” said Indivar Dutta-Gupta, president and executive director for The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP.) “The HEAL for Immigrant Families Act is a critical step in ensuring immigrant families have access to the health coverage they need to thrive. CLASP is grateful to Representatives Jayapal and Barragán and Senator Booker for their leadership in addressing the harmful and unfair barriers immigrant families face and getting the country closer to health justice for all,” said Indivar Dutta-Gupta, president and executive director for The Center for Law and Social Policy.

“Every family should be able to get the health care they need and the peace of mind that comes with that security. For too long, arbitrary policies deny millions of families, especially families of color, access to care through Medicaid and CHIP. The HEAL Act eliminates barriers like the “five-year bar,” making people with DACA eligible for health coverage, and creating groundbreaking opportunities for states to improve health care access for people who are undocumented. We thank Rep. Jayapal, Rep. Barragán, and Sen. Booker for their leadership, and urge their colleagues in Congress to pass the HEAL Act now.,” said Adriana Cadena, Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign Director.

The legislation is also sponsored by Alma Adams, Ph.D. (NC-12), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Cori Bush (MO-01), André Carson (IN-07), Troy Carter (LA-02), Kathy Castor (FL-14), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (FL-20), Judy Chu (CA-28), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Emanuel Cleaver, II (MO-05), Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11), J. Luis Correa (CA-46), Jasmine Crockett (TX-30), Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Sylvia R. Garcia (TX-29), Jesús “Chuy” García (IL) (IL-04), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-07), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Sara Jacobs (CA-51), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (GA-04), Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08), Barbara Lee (CA-12), Zoe Lofgren (CA-18), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Grace Meng (NY-06), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Jerry Nadler (NY-12), Grace F. Napolitano (CA-31), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Mark Pocan (WA-02), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Mike Quigley (IL-05), Delia Ramirez (IL-03), Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Terri A. Sewell (AL-07), Darren Soto (FL-09), Shri Thanedar (MI-13), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), Jill Tokuda (HI-02), Norma Torres (CA-35), David Trone (MD-06), Marc Veasey (TX-33), Nydia M. Velazquez (NY-07), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-25), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Nikema Williams (GA-05), and Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24).

The HEAL for Immigrant Families Act is endorsed by All* Above All Action Fund, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Muslim Health Professionals, Amplify Georgia Collaborative, API Chaya, APIAHF, APNA Community Center, Apna Ghar, Inc. , Asian and Pacific Islander Health Forum (APIAHF), Asian Community Development Council, Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL), Asian Texans for Justice, ASISTA Immigration Assistance, Avodah, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, Boston Medical Center, California Immigrant Policy Center, Caring Across Generations, Catholics for Choice, Central American Resource Center of Northern CA – CARECEN SF, Champaign County Health Care Consumers, Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) , Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), CommonSpirit Health, Community Catalyst, COPAL – Communities Organizing Latinx Power and Action, Daya Inc., East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, El Centro , Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC), Equality California, Faith Action Network, Families USA , First Focus Campaign for Children, Florida Health Justice Project , Frontera Fund, Futures Without Violence, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants & Refugees, Guttmacher Institute, Hawaii Children’s Action Network Speaks!, Healthy Teen Network, Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative, Ibis Reproductive Health, If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice, Immigration Law & Justice Network, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, Ipas, Jewish Coalition for Immigrant Justice NW, Justice in Aging, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Laotian American National Alliance, Latinas en Poder, Latino Community Fund , Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, MLPB, National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association, National Coalition for Latinxs with Disabilities (CNLD), National Council of Asian Pacific Americans – NCAPA, National Council of Jewish Women , National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, National Health Law Program, National Partnership for Women & Families, National Women’s Law Center, PIVOT-The Progressive Vietnamese American Organization, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Protect Our Care, Rabbinical Assembly , Rhia Ventures, SHERo Mississippi , Silver State Equality, South Asian Public Health Association, Southern AIDS Coalition , Texas Equal Access Fund, The AIDS Institute, The Workers Circle, Union for Reform Judaism, UnLocal, URGE: Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity, Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center, Women of Reform Judaism, and Young Invincibles.