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Houston labor and immigrant-rights group endorses H.R. 676

By Single Payer News
March 5, 2012

Hope Sanford, a spokesperson for Houston United/Unido, reports that her coalition of 16 union and community organizations has endorsed H.R. 676, “because we believe that health care for everyone in the U.S., regardless of citizenship or employment status, ensures a better quality of life for us all and greatly reduces the well-documented ill effects of economic disparity within a nation.”

The group’s resolution states: “Houston United/Unido will work with unions and community groups to build a groundswell of popular support and action for single-payer universal health care and H.R. 676 until we make what is morally right for our nation into what is also politically possible.”

Don McCanne, M.D., senior health policy fellow for Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), has summarized what will happen to immigrants under the health care reform act that was passed in 2010 (ACA).

He writes: “Everyone should have health care. How well will the Affordable Care Act (ACA) work for our immigrant population? It depends partly on immigration status.

“The ACA provisions apply to naturalized citizens just as they would for native-born citizens. Thus their barriers will be the same as for most of the rest of us. They will face the same issues of whether or not the subsidies will be adequate to purchase private plans, and whether or not they will be exposed to excessive cost sharing with inadequate subsidies when accessing care.

“Non-citizen immigrants are faced with the additional problem of having household incomes that average only half that of the U.S. median. Those who are lawfully present also must wait for five years before they are eligible for the Medicaid program. They will be eligible to purchase programs in the new exchanges, though the subsidies will likely be inadequate for those with incomes that already don’t cover other essential needs.

“For immigrants who are undocumented, Congress decided to yield to the forces of anti-immigrant politics, and not only make them ineligible for tax credits for the exchange plans, but also to prohibit them from purchasing the plans with their own funds, even at full cost. It is very unfortunate that Congress co-mingled heath care justice with immigration policy. The sanctity of human life should always prevail over the politics of ideology.

“Yes, some will receive excellent care from our safety-net providers, but many will not. Community health centers cannot possibly fill in the full void in coverage.

“Most undocumented workers are productive individuals, just like our citizens, and there is no reason that they should not contribute to and participate in a single payer national health program that covers everyone - absolutely everyone.”

http://www.pnhp.org/news/2012/february/immigrant-coverage-under-health-reform

PNHP has a fact sheet on immigrants and health care. It includes the following item:

It is estimated that immigrants will pay, on average, $80,000 more in taxes than they will use in government services over their lifetimes (The New Americans: Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration, National Academy Press, 1997).

PNHP Fact sheet: http://www.pnhp.org/immigrants/Immigrant_Fact_Sheet.pdf

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H.R. 676 would institute a single-payer health care system by expanding a greatly improved Medicare system to everyone residing in the U. S.

H.R. 676 would cover every person for all necessary medical care including prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and preventive care, emergency services, dental (including oral surgery, periodontics, endodontics), mental health, home health, physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision care and correction, hearing services including hearing aids, chiropractic, durable medical equipment, palliative care, podiatric care, and long term care.

H.R. 676 ends deductibles and co-payments. H.R. 676 would save hundreds of billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private health insurance industry and HMOs.

In the current Congress, H.R. 676 has 76 co-sponsors in addition to Conyers.

H.R. 676 has been endorsed by 587 union organizations including 139 Central Labor Councils and Area Labor Federations and 40 state AFL-CIO’s (KY, PA, CT, OH, DE, ND, WA, SC, WY, VT, FL, WI, WV, SD, NC, MO, MN, ME, AR, MD-DC, TX, IA, AZ, TN, OR, GA, OK, KS, CO, IN, AL, CA, AK, MI, MT, NE, NJ, NY, NV & MA).

For further information, a list of union endorsers, or a sample endorsement resolution, contact:

Kay Tillow All Unions Committee For Single Payer Health Care—H.R. 676 c/o Nurses Professional Organization (NPO) 1169 Eastern Parkway, Suite 2218 Louisville, KY 40217 (502) 636 1551 Email: nursenpo@aol.com, http://unionsforsinglepayer.org