Press Releases

Friday, May 10, 2013

Advocates urge Senate committee to advance immigrant women’s health

Press Release
Washington
Erin White, Camino PR, 212-255-2575; Brianne Nadeau, Rabinowitz-Dorf, 202-265-3000

This week, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) and the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) join 162 national, state, local, and international leaders in women’s health and rights in urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to address the exclusions from health care access in the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” (S. 744) and to lift the 5-year mandatory delay currently imposed on lawfully present immigrant women’s access to affordable health coverage. 

“We are deeply concerned that the legislation perpetuates the unjust and harmful exclusion of immigrant women and families from affordable health coverage. Women and families on the roadmap to citizenship who are working and paying taxes shouldn’t be forced to wait up to 15 years or more before they can get basic health care like cervical cancer screenings or contraception. We urge all members of the Senate to work in a bipartisan fashion to address these unresolved issues. As a critical first step, we urge Congress to lift the 5-year delay currently imposed on lawfully present immigrants from accessing important and cost-effective health coverage programs, like Medicaid,” said Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of NLIRH.

 “While we are grateful to the bipartisan group of senators who crafted an immigration bill that finally puts comprehensive immigration reform at the top of the Senate agenda, we believe important improvements are needed to this legislation in order to achieve reform that is just, humane, and reflects our values as Americans. As the bill is currently written, immigrant women and families could wait up to 15 years or more before they are eligible for basic and necessary health care. Given that currently undocumented immigrants already face a 10-year path before they can become permanent residents, an additional 5-year prohibition against essential services such as Medicaid could be fatal for women and others facing critical illnesses. We urge Congress to lift the additional 5-year bar on programs that could mean the difference between life and death,” said NCJW CEO Nancy K. Kaufman.

Background:

The “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” (S. 744) would leave many immigrant women with few opportunities for affordable health coverage for a decade or more. As currently written, aspiring citizen women on the roadmap to citizenship (registered provisional immigrants or RPIs) are ineligible for affordable health coverage options like Medicaid for at least 10 years, in addition to the mandatory 5-year delay under current law. RPI immigrants are additionally excluded from affordability options to purchase a plan on the exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.

Consequently, immigrant women, who are less likely than men to have access to employer-sponsored coverage or private health insurance, could be forced to wait up to 15 years or longer before they are able to access affordable health coverage options like Medicaid. Arbitrary delays on immigrant women’s access to health care are costly, counterproductive, and exacerbate health disparities. The Senate’s bill for immigration reform is also out of line with the values of Americans, as the majority of Americans agree that aspiring citizens on the roadmap to citizenship should have better access to health coverage and care.

The full letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee can be viewed here: http://latinainstitute.org/sites/default/files/publications/legislative-materials/Letter-to-Senate-Judiciary-Committee-Womens-Health-in-Immigration-Reform-Final.pdf

Consequently, immigrant women, who are less likely than men to have access to employer-sponsored coverage or private health insurance, could be forced to wait up to 15 years or longer before they are able to access affordable health coverage options like Medicaid. Arbitrary delays on immigrant women’s access to health care are costly, counterproductive, and exacerbate health disparities. The Senate’s bill for immigration reform is also out of line with the values of Americans, as the majority of Americans agree that aspiring citizens on the roadmap to citizenship should have better access to health coverage and care.

The full letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee can be viewed here: http://latinainstitute.org/sites/default/files/publications/legislative-materials/Letter-to-Senate-Judiciary-Committee-Womens-Health-in-Immigration-Reform-Final.pdf

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The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) is the only national organization working on behalf of the reproductive health and justice of the 24 million Latinas, their families and communities in the United States through public education, community mobilization and policy advocacy.

The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values, NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children, and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms. Since its founding in 1893, NCJW has worked for immigrant communities in the US and continues to advocate for just and humane immigrant policies.

 

More than 160 organizations call on Senate Judiciary Committee to advance health coverage options for aspiring citizens, lift 5-year bar in immigration reform