Press Releases

Friday, May 2, 2014

Latina Health Advocates Condemn Passage of Deeply Flawed Expatriate Health Coverage Bill

Press Release
Washington
Alejandra Cardenas, alejandra@caminopr.com / 212-255-2575

H.R. 4414 undermines the health and human rights of immigrant Latinas and families

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) issued the following statement in response to the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of HR. 4414, the Expatriate Health Coverage Clarification Act:

“We condemn the passage of H.R. 4414, the Expatriate Health Coverage Clarification Act. The bill sanctions discrimination against immigrant workers, erodes the promise of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for Latinas, and is a step in the wrong direction for our country. Immigrant Latinas living and working in the United States are constantly denied basic protections and human rights on the sole basis of their immigration status – with the denial of healthcare being one of the most persistent and egregious violations. H.R. 4414 only furthers this discrimination. We urge the U.S. Congress to instead advance solutions that improve the health of our communities including H.R. 4240, the Health Equity and Access under the Law (HEAL) for Immigrant Women and Families Act and a roadmap to citizenship for all immigrants living and working in the United States. We urge the U.S. Senate to reject or seriously alter this deeply flawed and harmful legislation.”

Background

On April 29, 2014 the U.S. House of Representatives, in a 268-150 vote, passed H.R. 4414, the Expatriate Health Coverage Clarification Act. The bill, which is intended to create a certain level of flexibility in expatriate health plans’ compliance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), codifies discrimination against legal permanent residents (“green card holders”) and other immigrants living and working in the United States and undermines the promise of the ACA for Latinas working abroad for part of the year.  The bill as passed by the U.S. House of Representatives eliminates the ACA’s group plan consumer protections for expatriate health insurance plans provided to individuals who travel abroad; yet the language defines those who work abroad to include legal permanent residents and other immigrant workers – regardless of whether they are working abroad or not. The bill also enables employers to provide substandard coverage to employees who work abroad for part of the year. In its recent concluding observations, the United Nations Human Rights Committee found theU.S. in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) for the widespread denial of healthcare to immigrants, including the denial of reproductive healthcare to immigrant women and families. H.R. 4240, the HEAL Immigrant Women and Families Act seeks to advance fairness in our healthcare system by ensuring immigrant women authorized to live and work in the United States are able to participate in the healthcare programs their tax dollars support.

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The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health is the only national reproductive justice organization dedicated to building Latina power to advance health, dignity, and justice for 26 million Latinas, their families, and communities in the United States through leadership development, community mobilization, policy advocacy, and strategic communications.