HOUSE BILL MUST PREVAIL TO MAKE HEALTH CARE REFORM MEANINGMEANINGFUL FOR MILLIONS OF UNINSURED LATIN
December 24 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dec 24, 2009
SENATE VOTE MARKS IMPORTANT PROGRESS, BUT HOUSE BILL MUST PREVAIL TO MAKE HEALTH CARE REFORM MEANINGFUL FOR MILLIONS OF UNINSURED LATINO FAMILIES, SAYS NCLR
Washington, DC—Major adjustments must be made to the health care reform legislation passed today by the Senate, says NCLR (National Council of La Raza), the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. If the “Patient Protection and Affordability Act” is left unchanged, the bill will hinder access to affordable health insurance for many Americans, including Latino families. Measures taken by the House of Representatives must prevail in order for health care reform to provide accessible, equitable, and affordable coverage for Latinos.
“The Senate vote is an important milestone, and we respect the efforts of leaders determined to make progress on this difficult issue,” said Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO, “but the Senate bill reinforces what Latino voters and families already believe—that their voices are not being heard and their concerns are not being seriously considered by lawmakers. Worse yet, the bill includes a senseless prohibition to the new insurance marketplace which will erect roadblocks to health care for many Americans.”
NCLR believes that the Senate bill includes measures that do not afford lawmakers protection from anti-immigrant opponents seeking to bring down this bill or punish families with immigrant workers or parents. It imposes several restrictions that raise costs, increase administrative burdens in the system, and create a barrier for Latinos’ access to health care. Restrictions include a five-year waiting period for legal immigrants, preventing them from accessing Medicaid; restricted access to health insurance exchanges by immigrants, which discourages them from acquiring insurance even when they can pay for their own coverage; and excessive verification requirements that create layers of bureaucracy for every American required to purchase health coverage through the exchange.
However, NCLR commends the exceptional work of Senator Robert Menendez throughout this process. In particular, his efforts removed the disparate treatment of eligible U.S. citizen children and adults in mixed immigration status families. Without his leadership, the bill would have undercut health care reform's goal to reach the uninsured, underinsured, and vulnerable.
Fortunately, there is a health care reform plan worthy of the support of the Latino community. The House of Representatives has taken serious and meaningful efforts to ensure that hardworking, tax-paying, legal permanent residents and U.S. citizens are not harassed and barred from sharing in the benefits that health care reform promises for American families. The result is that many individuals will be able to access for the first time affordable health insurance and improved quality of care.
“Measures in the House bill must be preserved and built upon for this health care effort to truly represent the reform that this nation needs,” Murguía concluded. “NCLR looks forward to working with policymakers to ensure passage of a final bill that ensures health care security for all American communities and includes key improvements such as the Senate leadership’s commitment to lifting the five-year waiting period for legal immigrants.”
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Issues: Health and Nutrition, Health Care Reform, Immigrant Health, Latino Children’s Health