U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has joined the calls of over 250 organizations to co-sponsor the Health Equity and Access under the Law (HEAL) for Immigrant Women and Families Act. This legislation would remove barriers to health care for immigrants, as our country and immigrant communities in particular are grappling with the ongoing impact of COVID-19.
The HEAL Act would expand access to care by removing the five-year bar that immigrants face before becoming eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). It would enable undocumented immigrants to purchase health insurance plans from the online Marketplace made available by the Affordable Care Act and restore Medicaid eligibility for COFA citizens.
“The coronavirus pandemic has reinforced the need for health care equity and access for all, regardless of immigration status, gender, or race,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This virus does not discriminate and it has made providing affordable, accessible health care even more urgent as it has put some of our country’s most underserved communities on the front lines of this public health emergency. The HEAL Act will allow immigrant women and their families to receive essential health care and help build healthier communities. Everyone has a right to health care and I will always fight to ensure access to care and resources without fear of discrimination or retribution.”
Insured rates are considerably lower among noncitizens, including both documented and undocumented immigrants. Barriers to health coverage disproportionately harm immigrant women, who are the majority of immigrants and are particularly likely to have low incomes and be young and uninsured. According to the Guttmacher Institute, nearly half of noncitizen immigrant women of reproductive age who would otherwise qualify for Medicaid are uninsured.
The legislation was introduced by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and is supported by more than 250 organizations.