Congressional health plans deny coverage to millions

Percent of people uninsured (Family Core, NHIS 2008)

Percent of people uninsured (Family Core, NHIS 2008)

The health care reform package being crafted by the U.S. Congress and President Obama will deny insurance coverage for millions of immigrant workers. The August 11th Chicago Tribune reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “emphasized that illegal immigrants would not be covered under the current proposals.” Workers, including those without legal documentation, have no voice in the U.S. Congress. The same Tribune article notes that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has called for insurance coverage “only for ‘legal, law-abiding’ immigrants who pay their ‘fair share’ for health care.”

One in three Latinos and one in five African Americans lack insurance, compared with one in eight whites. (See graph.) This situation is getting worse in the current economic crisis. Blacks and Latinos are the last to be hired and the first to be fired. As unemployment among African Americans and Latinos increases, so too will the number of uninsured or underinsured in those populations.

Health care is a human right. Undocumented workers deserve health care. This is not just a moral issue; it’s a matter of life and death. Those who lack health insurance lack access to health care. As a result they are sicker, die younger, and die in disproportionately higher numbers than those who do have insurance. This health inequity falls upon working-class and minority populations.

President Obama and the Congress are cobbling together a health care plan that will kill hundreds of thousands of Latino workers. It’s a crime, and we need to speak out against it.

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 at 20:31