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Letter in Support of HEAL for Immigrant Women and Families Act

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Reconstructing Judaism and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, already among over 100 organizations endorsing the HEAL for Immigrant Women & Families Act of 2020, signed a group letter urging that the Senate pass it.

Full information on the legislation and its endorsing organizations can be found here: https://www.napawf.org/heal

The text of the letter follows:


Dear Senators, 

We, the undersigned organizations, write to show our strong support for the Health Equity & Access under the Law (HEAL) for Immigrant Women & Families Act of 2020, and invite you to join us in supporting the bill’s first ever Senate introduction. Because of the spread of COVID-19, it’s clearer now, more than ever, that we must close loopholes and eliminate existing policy barriers in our health care system so that everyone can have access to affordable, quality care. The HEAL for Immigrant Women and Families Act of 2020 accomplishes this by expanding access to healthcare services, including sexual, reproductive, and maternal health services, and removing unnecessary legal and policy restrictions on health insurance coverage for immigrant communities.

Every individual deserves to live a healthy life and to obtain affordable health care with dignity. This is true at all times, and even more so now, as we grapple with a global pandemic. Infectious disease outbreaks have a long history of harming society’s most vulnerable, including immigrants, their families, and communities. Immigrants are also on the frontlines of fighting this public health emergency, putting their health and families at risk in order to keep our essential businesses and services open so that others can practice social distancing. The HEAL for Immigrant Women and Families Act of 2020 ensures all families, regardless of their immigration status, can access affordable coverage for which they are otherwise eligible and receive the health care they need. 

Under the current law, many immigrants are unable to qualify for Medicaid or purchase health insurance from the health insurance marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As a result, immigrants are forced to navigate a complicated patchwork of care that often leaves them paying out-of-pocket for basic health care, particularly if a community health center or employer-sponsored health insurance is not available to them.

These onerous barriers disproportionately harm immigrant women. According to the Guttmacher Institute, one-third of noncitizen immigrant women ages 15-44 are uninsured. For women in that group who are also low-income, that proportion jumps to nearly half. Furthermore, nearly half of immigrant women are of reproductive age. Legal and policy barriers to affordable health insurance coverage exacerbate their risk of negative sexual, reproductive, and maternal health outcomes, with lasting health and economic consequences for immigrant women, their families, and society as a whole. These barriers also disproportionately impact LGBTQ immigrants, immigrants with disabilities, and immigrants of other marginalized identities who need the care and services provided by Medicaid and the ACA.

Anyone seeking medical help should never be turned down. No family or individual should be left without an option to gain access to the care they need. The HEAL Act specifically helps to achieve this by: 1) restoring enrollment to full-benefit Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to all federally authorized immigrants who are otherwise eligible; 2) removing the unjustifiable exclusion of undocumented immigrants from accessing health insurance coverage on the ACA’s health insurance marketplaces; 3) ensuring access to public and affordable health coverage for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals; and 4) reinstating Medicaid eligibility for COFA migrants.

From threats to health care, nutrition, and affordable housing, to separating families at the border and mass deportation, the Trump administration has been relentless in attempting to strip away agency and dignity from immigrant families. The current pandemic has highlighted what we’ve always known about these cruel efforts: we put all of society at risk when we fail to ensure access to healthcare for all families. We must have common sense solutions that protect everyone at all times. Our workforce is healthier and our economy is stronger when more of us have health coverage. In light of this reality, we need bold legislation that expands access to the basic care that immigrant women and their families need and deserve.

The Reconstructionist Network

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