Reps. Jayapal, Haaland Proud to Introduce Health Equity and Access under the Law for Immigrant Women and Families Act (HEAL Act)

October 15, 2019
Press Release

FACT SHEET: HEAL for Immigrant Women and Families Act  

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Representatives Pramila Jayapal (Wash.-07) and Deb Haaland (NM-01) - introduced the Health Equity and Access under the Law for Immigrant Women and Families Act (HEAL Act). 

Reps. Jayapal and Haaland worked on the bill with support from the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. The HEALAct  addresses barriers to healthcare access for immigrants in the United States by removing the five year bar that immigrants must wait before becoming eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), enabling undocumented folks to purchase health insurance plans from the marketplace made available by the Affordable Care Act, and restoring Medicaid eligibility for COFA migrants. 

“Immigrants, even those here lawfully, have had a limited ability to access affordable health insurance for two decades,” Rep. Jayapal said. “When women lack access to health care coverage, it takes a toll on families and entire communities: it leads to delayed treatment of preventable diseases and early interventions, more visits to emergency rooms, and even premature death. And when women are healthy, their entire family benefits.”

“Now more than ever, the basic human needs and rights of our nation’s immigrants must be elevated in our policy,” Rep. Jayapal adds.

Rep. Deb Haaland said that the HEAL Act “allows immigrants to access the benefits they already pay for.”

“Under this administration, people in our country are denied access to health care because of where they come from -- it’s not what we stand for. I’m leading this bill with Congresswoman Jayapal, because everyone in this country should be able to go to the doctor when they’re sick without having to weigh the cost against groceries or paying for electricity,” Rep. Deb Haaland continued.

Ann Marie Benitez, senior director of government relations at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) issued the following statement on the bill:

“As the Trump administration seeks ways to instill fear in immigrant communities, there are leaders willing to say enough is enough—we need to protect the health and wellbeing of immigrants for the good of all. First, we saw the courts put a hold on President Trump’s public charge expansion. And today, we applaud Representatives Jayapal and Haaland, and the bill’s supporters, for moving forward this bold legislation to expand health insurance for everyone, regardless of their immigration status.

"NAPAWF is honored to have been a part of the introduction of bold and visionary legislation. We have harnessed the power of other women of color from across movements, from reproductive rights groups to faith-based groups, to fight for immigrant access to health care and agency over their own lives,” said NAPAWF Executive Director Sung Yeon Choimorrow. “Our collective voices are what will make real change. I am hopeful that with our communities and members of Congress, we can ensure health care coverage for all immigrants, regardless of their status."

“Many Black immigrant women are survivors of sexual-based violence and fled to the U.S. to escape abusive relationships and circumstances. Black immigrant women also navigate assault as they migrate to the U.S. and in fact detention centers like all jails are themselves institutions of sexual violence,” says Catherine Labiran, Gender Justice Program Coordinator, Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) “Expanding access to quality holistic healthcare is urgent in the case of Black immigrant women who are more likely to die from illnesses and diseases such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, heart disease, and maternal complications than women of other races.