Immediate Action Needed: Call Senators to Urge Support for Immigrant Women & Children 1


Please read on for the Action Alert from National Immigration Law Center (NILC)
ICHIA: New Congress Plans Action This Week on Immigrant Children’s Health

PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE, EMAIL ALL RESPONSES TO HUYNH@NILC.ORG.

A FIRST STEP TOWARDS ACHIEVING EQUITY IN HEALTH CARE:
NEW CONGRESS PLANS ACTION THIS WEEK ON IMMIGRANT CHILDREN’S HEALTH

Immediate Action Needed: Call Senators to Urge Support for ICHIA

ICHIA up for debate again this week

This week, Congress is planning to vote on bills to expand children’s health care through a new reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). While it is necessary for Congress to reauthorize SCHIP before current funding expires in March 2009, it is imperative that Congress passes a 2009 SCHIP bill that demonstrates our nation’s priorities to children’s access to health care and our commitment to a fair and equitable health care system that ensures all children have an opportunity to become healthy citizens.

Under current law, legal immigrant children and pregnant women must wait five years before they become eligible for federally funded Medicaid and SCHIP. Americans believe this waiting period is wrong and want it eliminated.[1] Congress can address this inequity by including the Legal Immigrant Children’s Health Improvement Act (ICHIA) in the 2009 SCHIP reauthorization bill.[2] Moreover, in these difficult economic times, Congress should be finding ways to help America’s working families and states with tight budgets. ICHIA would provide fiscal relief to families as well as states and would be a key component of a strong health reform foundation. Congress needs to pass ICHIA now, and demonstrate its commitment to children and a health care system that works for all Americans.

Timing

The U.S. House of Representatives will be voting on a new SCHIP bill as early as Wednesday, January 14. There is strong support for including ICHIA in the House version of a SCHIP bill. The Senate is working on its SCHIP bill with a vote likely later this week. As in the past, a minority of Senators threaten to use anti-immigrant tactics to block inclusion of ICHIA in what should only be a debate about how best to provide health care to America’s children.

Your voice is needed today to ensure that key members of the Senate hear that we want all children to have the opportunity to be healthy and to remove archaic barriers such as the five year bar.

Action Needed:

As of today, the Senate Finance Committee plans to send SCHIP to the full Senate on Thursday without ICHIA. Please immediately contact the following Finance Committee members. Tell these Senate Finance Committee Members that the Senate’s SCHIP bill MUST INCLUDE ICHIA.
For additional talking points on ICHIA, see here.

Senate Finance Committee Members

Member has been supportive in the past but has not confirmed support this year:

Max Baucus (D-MT), Chair
Kent Conrad (D-ND)
Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Member’s current position on ICHIA is unknown:
Charles Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member
Ken Salazar (D-CO)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
Jim Bunning (R-KY)
Mike Crapo (R-ID)
John Ensign (R-NV)

The following members are supportive and have indicated they will vote “Yes” to ICHIA:
John Rockefeller (D-WV), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), John Kerry (D-MA), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Olympia Snowe (R-ME). If you have time, please thank them for their support.

For contact information for Senate Finance Members, please go to the website link below, scroll down, click on the member, call their office, and ask to speak to the HEALTH staff. http://www.congress.org/congressorg/directory/committees.tt?commid=sfina

Other Members:

If you have additional time, please call your own two Senators and your Representative and let them know that their support for inclusion of ICHIA in SCHIP this week will be critical to the future of all children, not just immigrant children.

Thanks for all your help – it is critical Congress hears from all of you! We are close to the finish line and we need everyone’s help to make this happen this year!

________________________________________________________________

For more information, contact Dinah Wiley, Public Benefits Policy Attorney, at wiley@nilc.org, or Sonal Ambegaokar, Health Policy Attorney, at ambegaokar@nilc.org.

[1] In a November 2008 poll, more than three out of four Americans favor ending the five-year waiting period for Medicaid and SCHIP which immigrant children and pregnant women are subjected to by law. For more information about the poll, see http://www.firstfocus.net/pages/3540/New_Poll_Shows_Widespread_Support_for_Healthcare_for_Every_Child.htm

[2] Under current federal law, lawfully residing pregnant women and children who have entered the country since August 22, 1996 are barred from Medicaid and SCHIP for five years. This restriction is not only on its face discriminatory, but has clearly increased racial and ethnic health disparities among children in the U.S. The Immigrant Children’s Health Improvement Act (ICHIA, S.764, H.R.1308) would eliminate the waiting period and address health disparities. ICHIA has long-standing bipartisan support and strong support from hundreds of national and state organizations. For more information about ICHIA, go to: http://www.nilc.org/immspbs/cdev/ICHIA/index.htm


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