Editorial from Healthcare for All (Detroit) newsletter

August 29, 2015

The “Trump” attack on immigrants to this country is neither new nor restricted to the “Trump” campaign for president.  What is different about his campaign is that it is openly racist and targets immigrants as the cause of poverty among other sections of the labor movement.

In 1996, “Bill Clinton’s” welfare reform law barred legal immigrants from Medicaid access for 5 years.  It also barred refugees and those seeking asylum from Medicaid for 7 years.  Undocumented immigrants have always been barred from Medicaid except in emergency situations (Emergency Medicaid).

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) endorses the “Clinton” reforms.  It also drastically cut funding for Emergency Medicaid, leaving so called undocumented immigrants without access to even that.  It excludes them from purchasing insurance in the federal and state exchanges.  This intentionally leaves them without access to healthcare.   

Democratic Congresswoman “Louise Slaughter” assured the U.S. House of Representatives “That’s not the way it is.  There are no illegal aliens in this bill who get anything at all.”


Health Care for Immigrants — Implications of Obama's Executive Action

Notably, however, the Obama administration has indicated that immigrants covered under the new policy will continue to be excluded from the ACA's exchanges and tax credits. Similarly, immigrants targeted by the executive action will for the most part remain ineligible for federally funded Medicaid, though some states do provide publicly funded health insurance for some classes of undocumented immigrants. To the extent that work permits lead to an increase in taxes paid by undocumented immigrants, ongoing exclusion of these immigrants from the programs supported by such taxes would be increasingly inequitable.

Benjamin D. Sommers, M.D., Ph.D

Benjamin D. Sommers, M.D., Ph.D

New England Journal of Medicine: Perspective
N Engl J Med 2015; 372:1187-1189March 26, 2015DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1414949
by Benjamin D. Sommers, M.D., Ph.D., and Wendy E. Parmet, J.D.

On November 20, 2014, President Barack Obama announced his intention to grant millions of undocumented immigrants a reprieve from the threat of deportation, along with the possibility of legal employment in the United States. The announcement came shortly after midterm elections that saw Republicans take control of the Senate and bolster their majority in the House of Representatives, and it followed more than a year of congressional gridlock over the comprehensive immigration-reform bill passed by the Senate. The subsequent decision by a federal district judge in Texas to put President Obama's plan on hold has cast into doubt a policy that — if ultimately upheld — could have substantial effects on the health care system.

The cornerstone of the President's policy is a plan to allow up to 5 million undocumented immigrants (“covered immigrants”) to live and work in the United States. Modeled on the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which applied to young adults who arrived in the United States as children, the new policy will allow many more adults who have been here since 2010 to receive deferred-action status. The population affected by the policy is one that currently experiences major disparities in health care coverage and access. Immigrants are far more likely than native-born residents to be uninsured: among adults, an estimated 40% of legal permanent residents and 71% of undocumented immigrants are uninsured, as compared with 15% of U.S.-born citizens.1 Not surprisingly, health care utilization is far lower among immigrants than among citizens.


Immigrant Groups Try to Block Termination of Health Plans

by Louise Radnofsky
The Wall Street Journal, Washington Wire (not dated)

Immigrant advocates are accusing the Obama administration of violating antidiscrimination provisions in the federal health-care law by moving to terminate coverage for around 115,000 people who bought coverage through HealthCare.gov who didn’t take additional steps to prove they are legal U.S. residents.

Two immigrant groups filed complaints Tuesday with the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights asking it to block the action, which is being carried out by other units of the department. The Office of Civil Rights is in charge of enforcing rules in the 2010 law that bar discrimination in the sale of health plans.

The groups say the agency didn’t take adequate steps to tell people who speak languages other than English and Spanish that the health coverage they bought through HealthCare.gov was about to be terminated because the federal government couldn’t verify their immigration or citizenship status.


Immigrants and Health Care for All

If we deny health care to undocumented immigrants, can we save money?
By Samuel Metz, MD, 13 July 2013

Let’s break this into specific questions.

Does the cost of immigrant health care exceed what they pay?
Immigrants subsidize care for native-born Americans. Medicare receives more in payments from immigrants than it spends on immigrant care, an annual excess of $16 billion [Zallman 2013]. For Social Security, immigrants generated an excess of $12 billion in payroll taxes for benefits they are ineligible to enjoy [Goss 2013].

Is immigrant health care more expensive than that of native-born Americans?
The total cost of providing health care to all immigrants is estimated at $39 billion annually [Mohanty 2005]. This figure is less than 2% of the $2.6 trillion spent by all Americans. Of the approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants in the US, nearly 40% were covered by private insurance [Preston 2011]. The six million undocumented immigrants who were uninsured consumed $4.3 billion in health care, a mere $716 per person annually [Camarota 2009]. This is less than one tenth that consumed by native born Americans [Keehan 2011].

All studies looking at this issue determined that immigrants, both documented and otherwise, consumed less health care per person per year than native born Americans [Goldman 2006, Berk 2002; Mohanty 2005; Ku 2009; Stimpson 2010].


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Illegal Immigration Enters the Health-Care Debate

In California, Funding Is at Stake for a Clinic That Treats Patients No Matter Their Status; An Issue 'No One Wants to Touch'

By MIRIAM JORDAN for The Wall Street Jounral
August 15, 2009

VALLEJO, Calif. -- A health clinic in this blue-collar city north of Oakland, partly funded by the county, is saving local hospitals thousands of dollars in emergency-room visits by treating uninsured patients who suffer only non-urgent ailments.

A watchdog group is now calling on county officials to cut funding for clinic patients who can't prove they are in the U.S. legally, a debate certain to surface in the national health-care overhaul.

With congressional proposals already stirring raw emotions, few supporters are eager to add the incendiary issue of illegal immigration. A provision in the House's health-care-overhaul bill rules out federal funding for illegal immigrants.


"March for ONE Oregon" Bus Tour

From March 5th to March 9th, 50 Oregonians will get on a bus to travel Central and Eastern Oregon for the March for ONE Oregon to raise up the sanctity of families, show that we are one community, one Oregon, united to win dignity for all of our community members.  We’ll start in Central Oregon, travel to the Gorge, to Eastern Oregon, to Idaho, then unite with our allies in Washington State in Walla Walla on a 5-day tour, hosting rallies, press conferences, vigils, sharing stories, and meeting new activists along the way.

Please plan to join us at one of our 9 events below.  Can’t attend?  You can also help by being a sponsor of the tour!

March 5th…

March for ONE Oregon Tour Send-off
Trinity Episcopal Church: 231 NW Idaho Av, Bend

Dinner to Keep Families Together * Dinner Provided
St. Patrick's Catholic Church: 341 SW "J" street, Madras
March 6th…
Strengthening Our ONE Community * Lunch Provided
Riverside Community Church: 317 State St, Hood River
March and Celebration for Unity * Dinner Provided
Beginning 5pm Hermiston City Hall
Dinner at 6pm El Chaparral Shopping Center: 305 SW 11th St, Hermiston
March 7th…
Uniting for Home Grown Prosperity
Rally at Congressman Walden’s office: 1211 Washington Avenue, La Grande
March and Dinner to build Welcoming Communities * Dinner Provided
Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church: 829 SW 2nd Ave, Ontario
March 8th…
Northwest Immigration Reform Bus Tour Stop * Lunch Provided
Hispanic Cultural Center: 315 Stampede Drive
Northwest Immigration Reform Bus Tour Stop * Dinner Provided
Location TBA
March 9th…
Northwest Immigration Reform Bus Tour Stop
Jefferson Park, S 9th Ave and Malcolm Street, Walla Walla

Join us for this historic march.  This is the time to be seen.  It will be an experience that shapes who we are. Together we can achieve great things this year.

See you soon, on the bus,
Amanda Aguilar Shank, Rural Organizing Project
Francisco Lopez, Causa
Ramon Ramirez, PCUN

Alliance of Communities of Color Announce Health Equity 2013 Agenda

Communities of Color and new Immigrant and Refugee Voter Turnout Raises Bar for Racial Equity

Salem, Ore. -- In Oregon, a new alliance of communities of color, immigrants and refugees unifying organizations and advocates across the state announce their Health Equity Agenda for 2013 and Kickoff Event 6:00 PM Thursday November 29th, 2012 at the Irvington Covenant Church in NE Portland.  

The Oregon Health Equity Alliance (OHEA) works to improve the well-being and prosperity for all Oregonians through policy advocacy that addresses the root causes of health disparities, improving care and lowering costs.  Member organizations helped register over 8,500 new voters, educate voters on key issues and increase turnout.  “The demographics of Oregon have changed and our communities can no longer be ignored” says Kayse Jama of the Center for Intercultural Organizing, adding, “we expect our elected officials to address the needs of all Oregonians”.

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