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Statement by In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda President Marcela Howell
WASHINGTON — Today, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Health Equity and Access under the Law (HEAL) for Immigrant Women and Families Act in the Senate. In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda founder and President Marcela Howell issued the following statement:
“The HEAL Act would give immigrant women access to crucial and comprehensive health care that is central to their lives, families and communities. Our nation’s current public health crisis and its disproportionate impact on communities of color — along with the socio-economic and racial health disparities and historic structural inequities baked into our society — make it abundantly clear that communities who are hit hardest — women, people of color, trans and gender nonconforming people, and immigrants — are least likely to have access to quality health care.
“Black immigrants are often overlooked even though they number 3.8 million and are a rapidly growing community.Nearly 28% of Black immigrants work in the healthcare industry, especially in essential frontline roles like nurses, personal care aides and nursing assistants. All of those positions are overwhelming staffed by women, underscoring the important role that Black women are serving in the battle against COVID.
“The recent CARES Act package for coronavirus relief provided resources to many working families but discriminates based on immigrant status. In addition, current U.S. policies limit access to critical health care, as many immigrants must wait five years before they can enroll in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and undocumented immigrants are completely barred from these programs, as well as from purchasing insurance from the marketplace.
“Barriers to health coverage disproportionately harm immigrant women, who are the majority of immigrants and particularly likely to be low-income, young and uninsured — and that includes Black immigrant women. The HEAL Act would remove the five-year waiting period before becoming eligible for Medicaid and CHIP. It would enable undocumented immigrants to purchase health insurance plans from the marketplace made available by the Affordable Care Act and restore Medicaid eligibility for Compact of Free Association migrants.
“We demand that Congress pass the HEAL Act to expand urgently-needed health coverage and care to immigrant women, families and communities. The HEAL Act is good for immigrants and the entire country”.