While our organizations have other priorities in the health-care debate, we agree that any health-care plan should include legal immigrants and other vulnerable immigrant populations. It is our strongly-held view that the provision of health care is a shared responsibility grounded in the sacred act of creation and our common humanity. Universal teachings within the scriptural texts of our diverse faith communities call us to welcome strangers and compassionately care for their basic human needs – including health care.
Legal immigrants work hard, pay taxes, contribute to society, and pay into the Social Security and Medicare systems, as is required of U.S. citizens. We seek to rectify the injustice of denying them access to needed health care for them and their families.
Specifically, in any proposal that moves forward, we call for provisions that:
- Provide permanent residents with equal access to subsidies to help them purchase health-care coverage.
- Eliminate the five-year waiting period which excludes low-income immigrants from Medicaid.
- Include all immigrant children and pregnant women, regardless of their immigration status, in eligibility for Medicaid.
Uninsured immigrants, like uninsured citizens, are vulnerable. With no access to preventative care, they too often have to rely on emergency-room care, which is always more expensive and is often too late. Providing them with access to health-care would ensure healthier immigrant communities, would drive down the cost of uncompensated care, and ultimately would contribute to savings for all of us.
It is important that, as Congress considers health-care reform, legal and other vulnerable immigrants have access to health-care coverage. In such action, we are ensuring that they have what they need in order to live out the fullness of their sacred potential as individuals and as contributing members of our society.