Rep. Jayapal Reintroduces Bill to Extend Healthcare to Immigrants; Calls for Increased Covid Aid to India
File photo of Indian American Rep. Pramila Jayapal speaking during a news conference April 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)
India-West Staff Reporter
WASHINGTON – Indian American U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., has reintroduced a bicameral legislation to grant lawful immigrants eligibility to healthcare programs, according to an IANS report.
Taking to Twitter May 12, Jayapal announced: “We must finally guarantee healthcare to everyone as a human right, regardless of immigration status, income, employment, or anything else.
“That’s why I’m proud to be introducing the HEAL (Health Equity and Access under Law) Act, a first step towards removing barriers to health care for immigrants.”
Calling herself “a proud immigrant who came to America when I was 16,” Jayapal said that “this is an urgent and necessary first step to eliminating barriers to healthcare and ensuring immigrants get the care they need.”
According to a statement by Jayapal’s office, the proposal, co-sponsored by more than 80 members of Congress and endorsed by hundreds of organizations, is being introduced “amidst a devastating public health crisis in which over two-thirds of the undocumented population are working on the frontlines of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The HEAL Act ensures critical access to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program by lifting the current five-year period that lawfully present immigrants, including children, are required to wait before being able to enroll in these health care programs, the statement said.
“The bill also provides access to public and affordable health coverage for DACA recipients and removes the current restrictions that prevent undocumented immigrants from purchasing care through the Affordable Care Act marketplace while ensuring these individuals are able to obtain premium-tax credits and cost-sharing reductions.”
Over two-thirds of the undocumented population are working on the frontlines of the pandemic.
In related news, Jayapal has stressed the need to boost funds for India, which is immersed in a debilitating outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The situation in India is dire. Hundreds of thousands of new COVID cases are confirmed every day, there are no hospital beds open or oxygen supply left, and people are tragically dying before they can even get to a doctor,” Jayapal said in a May 6 statement.
“India needs our help — and it is our moral responsibility to rise to the challenge at the local, federal, and international level because to defeat a global pandemic, we need a global response,” she said.
“That is why I repeatedly called on the Biden administration to approve India’s request for raw vaccine materials, release some of our stockpile of unused COVID vaccines to India, and support a resolution at the WTO to waive patent protections so we finally put people’s lives over pharmaceutical profits,” the three-time congresswoman added.
“The Biden administration’s willingness to quickly heed my call on each of these lifesaving requests comes at a moment when wealthy countries have administered more than 80 percent of global vaccines while low-income countries have received just 0.3 percent,” she added. “To redress this injustice, the Congressional Progressive Caucus is focused on partnering with ambassadors, multilateral organizations, and the Biden administration to achieve our shared goal of an equitable global vaccination program that quickly gets more vaccines to countries in need around the world.
“As we work to accomplish this globally, I am proud of the critical efforts that Indian American advocates, activists, and allies are doing locally,” Jayapal added.
The congresswoman, who had traveled to India prior to the recent surge in the pandemic, said all of the funds raised would go to three initiatives: WISH Basis, which works around the clock to arrange COVID-19 care centers; GiveIndia, which helps households dwelling in poverty; and EdelGive Basis, which in coordination with Goonj and Jan Sahas, works to offer migrants and susceptible inhabitants money help, meals and well-being provides.
(With IANS reports)