Houston United/Unido, a Fighter for Justice for Immigrant Workers, Endorses HR 676

Hope Sanford, a spokesperson for Houston United/Unido, reports that her coalition of 16 union and community organizations has endorsed HR 676, "because we believe that health care for everyone in the U.S., regardless of citizenship or employment status ensures a better quality of life for us all and greatly reduces the well documented ill effects of economic disparity within a nation."

"Houston United/Unido will work with unions and community groups to build a groundswell of popular support and action for single payer universal health care and HR 676 until we make what is morally right for our nation into what is also politically possible," the resolution states.

Don McCanne, MD, senior health policy fellow for Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), has summarized what will happen to immigrants under the health care reform act that was passed in 2010 (ACA).

"Everyone should have health care. How well will the Affordable Care Act (ACA) work for our immigrant population? It depends partly on immigration status.

"The ACA provisions apply to naturalized citizens just as they would for native-born citizens. Thus their barriers will be the same as for most of the rest of us. They will face the same issues of whether or not the subsidies will be adequate to purchase private plans, and whether or not they will be exposed to excessive cost sharing with inadequate subsidies when accessing care.

"Non-citizen immigrants are faced with the additional problem of having household incomes that average only half that of the U.S. median. Those who are lawfully present also must wait for five years before they are eligible for the Medicaid program. They will be eligible to purchase programs in the new exchanges, though the subsidies will likely be inadequate for those with incomes that already don't cover other essential needs.

"For immigrants who are undocumented, Congress decided to yield to the forces of anti-immigrant politics, and not only make them ineligible for tax credits for the exchange plans, but also to prohibit them from purchasing the plans with their own funds, even at full cost. It is very unfortunate that Congress co-mingled heath care justice with immigration policy. The sanctity of human life should always prevail over the politics of ideology.

"Yes, some will receive excellent care from our safety-net providers, but many will not. Community health centers cannot possibly fill in the full void in coverage.

"Most undocumented workers are productive individuals, just like our citizens, and there is no reason that they should not contribute to and participate in a single payer national health program that covers everyone - absolutely everyone."

http://www.pnhp.org/news/2012/february/immigrant-coverage-under-health-r...

PNHP has a fact sheet on immigrants and health care. It includes the following item:

It is estimated that immigrants will pay, on average, $80,000 more in taxes than they will use in government services over their lifetimes (The New Americans: Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration, National Academy Press, 1997).

PNHP Fact sheet: http://www.pnhp.org/immigrants/Immigrant_Fact_Sheet.pdf