On Tuesday (October 15), Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) reintroduced the “groundbreaking, intersectional” Health Equity and Access Under the Law for Immigrant Women and Families (HEAL) Act with the support of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and more than 120 other organizations, per a statement from NAPAWF.
HEAL, which extends healthcare coverage to immigrants, would get rid of the five-year wait that immigrants must endure before they can apply for Medicaid. It would also allow immigrants of undocumented status to purchase healthcare through the Affordable Care Act.
Jayapal spoke to the heart of this bill in a statement:
Immigrants, even those here lawfully, have had a limited ability to access affordable health insurance for two decades. When women lack access to health care coverage, it takes a toll on families and entire communities: it leads to delayed treatment of preventable diseases and early interventions, more visits to emergency rooms and even premature death. And when women are healthy, their entire family benefits.
“This legislation would allow immigrant families to better meet their financial needs, and would likely offer some peace of mind. [It] allows immigrants to access the benefits they already pay for,” said Haaland in that statement. “Under this administration, people in our country are denied access to health care because of where they come from—it’s not what we stand for. I’m leading this bill with Congresswoman Jayapal, because everyone in this country should be able to go to the doctor when they’re sick without having to weigh the cost against groceries or paying for electricity.”
“Our collective voices are what will make real change,” added NAPAWF Executive Director Sung Yeon Choimorrow. I am hopeful that with our communities and members of Congress, we can ensure health care coverage for all immigrants, regardless of their status.”