National Immigration Law Center
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Health Care Reform Toolkit




Key Points on Immigrant Inclusion in Health Care Reform to Share with Legislators and the Media

Fixing health care means that everyone in America should have quality, affordable health care. We all should pay our fair share and have the opportunity to purchase health insurance that we can afford. Immigrants should contribute and be able to obtain affordable health insurance just like everyone else in the U.S.

Immigrants in the U.S. lawfully should be treated the same as citizens under health reform. The same rules should apply to legal immigrants and citizens when they seek affordable health insurance whether through the Exchange or through Medicaid.

Legal immigrants pay the same taxes as citizens. It is unacceptable to invite people to come to this country as lawful permanent residents, ask them to contribute and collect their taxes, and then refuse to let them buy affordable health insurance through the new Exchange, or bar them from using the Medicaid that their tax dollars pay for.  

Health reform should not discriminate against immigrants who are lawfully present in the U.S. Specifically, health reform should:

  • Provide subsidies in the Health Insurance Exchange to legal immigrants in the same manner as citizens, without any barriers or waiting periods;

  • Eliminate the arbitrary five year waiting period that prevents many legal immigrants from participating in the federal Medicaid program. States should be required to provide Medicaid to legal immigrants on the same basis as citizens.

  • Provide access to affordable health insurance to all children, regardless of immigration status.

Health reform will succeed if it makes insurance affordable to as many people as possible. All workers and their families deserve health care that they can afford. We simply cannot accept half-measures and unfair exclusions in health reform that leave out millions of people, many of whom are young and healthy, who are eager to purchase affordable health insurance.

Health reform should eliminate existing barriers to health care so that people with diabetes, asthma, cancer and other health issues can get preventive care, stay healthy and manage their chronic conditions in the most cost effective way. Currently, most legal immigrants cannot use federal Medicaid until they’ve been in their status for five years. Health reform needs to end these arbitrary and discriminatory waiting periods. The goals of reducing overall health costs and insuring more people are undermined if legal immigrants are excluded.

If more people pay their fair share and purchase insurance premiums they can afford, health care will be more affordable for all of us.  Immigrants are part of our communities, and want to pay their fair share and receive affordable coverage like every other American.

 [Ask for specific commitments on the three priorities]