WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01) today introduced the Health Equity and Access under the Law (HEAL) for Immigrant Women and Families Act of 2014, which would ensure that lawfully present immigrants have access to Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and tax credits provided through the Affordable Care Act.
“This legislation would correct the harmful restrictions that have been placed on legal immigrants’ ability to access affordable health insurance coverage,” Rep. Lujan Grisham said. “Limiting access to healthcare has a profound negative impact on families, communities and the nation as a whole and it must be corrected. These immigrants are hardworking taxpayers who deserve to be treated fairly under the system they pay into.”
Although they pay taxes, more than 600,000 legal permanent residents are restricted from receiving federal healthcare benefits. This lack of access leads to more visits to emergency rooms, where immigrants are forced to pay as much as $1,200 to treat common ailments like the flu and upper respiratory infections.
Rep. Lujan Grisham’s bill will guarantee that the more than 4,000 individuals in New Mexico, and 600,000 nationwide who have been granted status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, who work hard, pay taxes and contribute to our economy, will be treated fairly by the health care system they are paying into.
Several members of the House have co-sponsored the HEAL Immigrant Women and Families Act of 2014:
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40)
“Immigrant women who are paying taxes deserve access to the same life-saving medical care as everyone else,” said Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), who is the Chair of the Congressional Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform. “Unfairly excluding these women from critical social safety net programs hurts vulnerable children and families, including millions of US citizens. That’s why I’m proud to support the HEAL Act and why I’m fighting every day for comprehensive immigration reform that protects and empowers women.”
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13)
“As the CAPAC Healthcare Taskforce Co-Chair, I am proud to join Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham and other immigrant and health rights champions for the introduction of the HEAL Act. I strongly believe that access to affordable healthcare is a fundamental human right, regardless of citizenship status,” said Rep. Lee. “While we have made great progress in expanding coverage through the Affordable Care Act, immigrant families have been systematically left out of the programs that their tax dollars help support. This legislation would guarantee their access to coverage while creating healthier communities and a stronger economy. “
Congressman Marc Veasey (TX-33)
“I am proud to be a co-sponsor of the Health Equity & Access Under the Law (HEAL) for Immigrant Women and Families Act, legislation that levels the playing field for all productive members of our society in order to build a healthier community and stronger economy. Our future as a nation depends on the health of our hardworking, taxpaying immigrant communities,” said Rep. Veasey. “However, many states like Texas are more interested in scoring political points than helping their constituents. I am proud to stand with my colleague, Congresswoman Lujan Grisham, in ensuring we break those barriers so that hardworking immigrants can receive the health coverage they deserve.”
The HEAL Immigrant Women & Families Act of 2014 has 16 original co-sponsors.
For complete text of the HEAL Immigrant Women and Families Act of 2014, click here.
For a list of organizations who have expressed support for the HEAL Immigrant Women and Families Act of 2014, click here.