Washington, D.C. – Today, Senator Cory Booker and Representatives Pramila Jayapal and Nanette Barragán reintroduced the Health Equity and Access under the Law (HEAL) for Immigrant Families Act. The bicameral reintroduction is the second for this bill, which was reintroduced in the 116th Congress as well.
As a coalition of 27 Arab American community-based organizations which promote civic engagement and provide direct social services, NNAAC applauds the introduction of the Health Equity and Access under the Law (HEAL) for Immigrant Families Act. The HEAL act is an important move towards protecting marginalized communities and making sure that immigrant families can access care. The bill would remove the 5-year waiting period that all federally authorized immigrants must currently endure to gain access to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Its other provisions will lift obstructive eligibility exclusions for undocumented immigrants and ensure that healthcare coverage is extended to DACA recipients.
The HEAL Act’s important provisions are an instrumental step toward achievement of a key priority of the Biden administration: the elimination of racial and ethnic disparities across the social determinants of health. The spread of COVID-19 has exacerbated already existing healthcare inequities for immigrants in the United States. Not only do many immigrants struggle to access quality healthcare, but some of them are also at an increased risk of contracting the virus due to their experience of poverty and living in multi-generational homes. By eliminating the five-year waiting period for Medicaid and CHIP eligibility, the HEAL Act will directly benefit immigrant essential workers who have the greatest need of medical care and follow through on our nation’s commitment to nondiscrimination.
We commend the HEAL Act’s Congressional co-sponsors for moving to introduce this transformative legislation. All people – regardless of where they are in the immigration process – should have access to the tools they need to protect their health. Universal access to healthcare improves the general welfare of our nation. We hope that Congress will support and pass the HEAL Act and support all immigrant communities’ access to health care.
The National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC), a national institution of ACCESS, is a national consortium of independent Arab American community-based organizations. Established in 2004 as a project of the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS), NNAAC currently has 27 members in 11 different states. Our mission is the development of Arab American community-based nonprofit organizations that understand, meet the needs, and represent the concerns of Arab Americans at a local level, while also collectively addressing those issues at a national level. Our vision is to foster economic, cultural, social, and political empowerment of Arab Americans. We are committed to working collaboratively to support the development of strong and effective Arab American communitybased organizations that mobilize locally and nationally to empower the Arab American community.
May 12, 2021
Adam Beddawi, ABeddawi@accesscommunity.org