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Senate Urged By Latinos To Pass Health Care Reform



Washington, DC—Millions of Americans, including Latinos, who have the highest uninsurance rates in the country, are one step closer to obtaining health care coverage with the passage of the “Affordable Health Care for America Act of 2009” by the House of Representatives.  NCLR (National Council of La Raza), the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, supports several core provisions in the “Affordable Health Care for America Act,” such as its emphasis on preventive care.  The House bill would ensure that illnesses and diseases are detected at the earliest possible stages, and it takes tremendous steps to improve health care delivery by addressing inequalities and health disparities.  For example, the bill would provide new resources to expand and diversify the health care workforce.  The legislation also includes a comprehensive data collection system that will identify and eradicate unequal access to care and uneven treatment of patients.

“The health care reform bill passed by the House is a fundamental step toward making health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans, including Latinos,” said Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO. 

The leadership of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) deserves special recognition for successfully fending off the efforts of some lawmakers to add onerous, costly, and unnecessary immigrant restrictions to health care that would have harmed U.S. citizen children.  In addition, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Progressive Caucus, and the CHC, as well as Rep. Henry Waxman, deserve considerable praise for their efforts to secure and protect meaningful access to health care for Latino families, children, and all families of color. 

Despite serious gains, however, the House bill is still too tough on legal immigrants and their access to public health care.  For example, the bill would continue the mandatory five-year bar for legal immigrants to access public health services.  To promote an equitable system for all, restrictions on legal immigrants’ access to federal aid such as Medicaid, Medicare, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) must be removed.  Furthermore, roadblocks to insurance must be eliminated by removing excessive verification requirements that raise costs, increase barriers to health care, and have been proven to harm many U.S. citizens.

“The Senate now needs to act and pass a health care reform bill that builds on the House plan and increases access, quality, and affordability of coverage for all Americans, especially the uninsured,” concluded Murguía.

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