DRACONIAN REFORM PROPOSALS MAY THREATEN HEALTH CARE FOR ALL AMERICANS, SAYS LA RAZA
Washington, DC—NCLR (National Council of La Raza), the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, expressed serious concerns regarding the recent actions of President Obama and Congress that could prevent gains for Latinos and other Americans in health care reform.
“We support health care reform and the process of moving legislation forward, but we are concerned that the tone of the debate has put roadblocks in front of meaningful reform. Health care policies should not be dictated by a heckler. NCLR cautioned decision-makers that giving in to the dishonesty of Representative Wilson would undermine U.S. citizens and legal immigrants, and that is what has happened,” said Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO.
NCLR is aware that the president does not support health care for undocumented immigrants, but a public commitment from the administration to ensure that those who are here legally are covered under health care reform has not been demonstrated either.
Legislation released by the Senate Finance Committee creates state exchanges and offers tax credits for individuals to purchase affordable health insurance. The proposal has some clear effects on Latinos and immigrants:
· Undocumented immigrants, including children, are explicitly barred from purchasing any coverage through the health insurance exchange, even if they or their parents can afford to pay full price. Legal residents and U.S. citizens in the family or household may have access to coverage in the exchange.
· Most legal immigrants are required to purchase insurance and are eligible for tax credits and the health insurance exchanges to choose a private health care plan. Some of the very poorest may not qualify.
· The legislation would examine health disparities through data collection. The quality of health care may not be enhanced for Latinos, since many previous health disparities provisions that have been a part of the Senate Finance Committee’s plans have been removed.
· All individuals may need to go through extensive verification before they can gain access to health coverage. The proposal contains requirements for every citizen and legal immigrant to verify their status. The only publicly discussed proposals on verification have gone beyond the pale, imposing costly bureaucracy and red tape in the system.
· U.S. citizens or legal immigrants living with an undocumented person may have their tax credits reduced or entirely eliminated, even though they are mandated to purchase coverage.
Moving forward, NCLR urges Congress to take immediate action to shift the focus of the health care reform debate back to passing health care reform. Specifically, Congress must fix the plethora of flaws in the health care reform plans and ensure that no further harm is done.
“NCLR urges Congress to immediately stop putting bad politics in front of sound policy. Senator Bob Menendez and Senator Jeff Bingaman and a number of Senate Finance Committee members have worked with the Chair and deserve credit for undoing some of the harm to U.S. citizens and legal immigrants that has happened in the past week, but we must do more to ensure the security and stability of reform for Americans. Left unaddressed, the plan has the potential to drive up costs, leave people uncovered, and threaten public health,” Murguía said.