Health care bill overcomes extremist politics, but still needs improvement, says NCLR

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Washington, DC—NCLR (National Council of La Raza), the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States noted the progress of the Senate Finance Committee’s health care reform legislation toward floor consideration, but expressed concern that the Latino community would not benefit from health care reform unless the final Senate bill is improved. NCLR applauded the committee’s defeat of multiple anti-immigrant amendments and inclusion of a positive children’s provision in a final committee health care proposal.

“Many members of the committee listened to the collective voice of tens of thousands of Latinos throughout the country who have raised concerns about the tone of the debate,” said Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO. In recent weeks, groups that promote the health and well-being of communities of color and immigrants have mobilized a national effort to ensure that these communities are protected and fairly integrated into health care reform.

Among the provisions that the Senate Finance Committee voted against were proposals to impose additional waiting periods on legal immigrants, barring them from purchasing affordable coverage even though they are mandated to have health insurance. The committee also defeated amendments that would have imposed onerous verification on legal immigrants and U.S. citizens.

“Time and time again, verification proposals have been proven to eliminate access to coverage for eligible U.S. citizens and legal immigrants and waste taxpayers’ money,” noted Murguía. “NCLR commends the majority of the Senate Finance Committee who stood up for sound policy rather than playing politics with the health of Americans. NCLR is especially grateful for the actions of Senator Menendez, who has continuously pushed for policy solutions that ensure coverage for children with special family circumstances.”

Although the Senate Finance Committee has taken an important step toward achieving reform, more work is needed to improve health care reform legislation to ensure that the proposals are meaningful for Latinos. The health care reform bill still contains harsh restrictions on legal immigrants and will deeply inhibit the ability of U.S. citizens in mixed immigration status families to buy health coverage.