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What the Affordable Care Act Means for Many Immigrant Families

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immigrant health careIt’s been an interesting month for politics.

So far in June, the Obama Administration made the decision to provide relief for undocumented immigrant youth who would be eligible for the DREAM Act. Then the Supreme Court struck down most of the provisions of Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, SB 1070. And just yesterday, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Access to affordable health care has long been an issue for many in the United States. From the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), we also learn what the Supreme Court’s decision on the ACA will mean for many immigrant families:

► Allowing millions of lawfully present immigrants of any age to purchase private health insurance and to receive federal tax credits to make health insurance more affordable.

► Allowing many immigrants who are single, nondisabled adults who earn less than $15,000/year access to Medicaid, to help them pay for needed care in states that do, and should, take the federal government’s offer to provide Medicaid to individuals below 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

► Ensuring that citizen children in mixed-status families are eligible for affordable health insurance regardless of their parents’ immigration status or income.

► Expanding funding to community health care centers so that any individual who is and will remain uninsured, including undocumented immigrants who are excluded from other affordable coverage options, can continue to seek basic health services, regardless of his/her income or immigration status.

► Improving the collection of data on race, ethnicity, and primary language so we can better address health inequities.

► Providing the opportunity for immigrant-serving, community-based organizations and community health workers to apply for funding so they can provide outreach and education to their communities.

► Improving and investing in communities to ensure our neighborhoods are safer and have access to healthier foods and activities.

You can find more details about how immigrants are included in the ACA here.

Though providing access to affordable health care is important for the country, NILC also notes that the bill isn’t perfect:

Undocumented immigrants were unjustly excluded from this law, yet again victims of politics. This exclusion isn’t just immoral, it’s also poor policy: Our nation needs a stronger, not weaker, safety net to improve everyone’s health…

Today’s decision is a starting point, not an end. States must move forward with implementation of the ACA to build upon this important foundation. We look forward to a day when “preexisting conditions”— including age, gender, and economic or immigration status — are no longer barriers to affordable health care. Until then, we will continue to organize, educate, advocate, and litigate on behalf of and along with low-income immigrants and their families.