USCCB News Release
March 19, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Head of Immigration Committee, Hispanic Bishops Urge Congress to Include Immigrants on Health Care Reform
WASHINGTON—Several Hispanic bishops, joined Bishop John C. Wester, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, in sending a letter to all Representatives in the House urging them to include immigrants in health care reform.
“We ask that undocumented persons in the United States not be prohibited from using their own money to purchase health care coverage in the newly created health care exchanges,” said the bishops in the letter. “We also request that the five-year ban on legal immigrants accessing Medicaid coverage be eliminated.” Current law forbids legal immigrants to access Medicaid benefits for five years after being admitted to the United States.
The March 18 letter was co-signed by Archbishop José H. Gomez of San Antonio, Chairman-Elect, USCCB Committee on Migration; Bishop Gerald Barnes of San Bernardino, California; Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas; Bishop Richard Garcia of Monterey, California; Bishop Carlos A. Sevilla, SJ, of Yakima, Washington; Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, California; and Bishop James A. Tamayo of Laredo, Texas.
Full text of the letter follows.
March 18, 2010
We write on behalf of the U.S. Catholic Bishops to reaffirm our urgent hope that Congress will approve only health care reform legislation that upholds the life, health, dignity and conscience of all. We continue to call for the exclusion of any federal funding of abortion. In this letter we particularly ask that you support the inclusion of immigrants in any health care legislation considered by the U.S. House of Representatives.
Specifically, we ask that undocumented persons in the United States not be prohibited from using their own money to purchase health care coverage in the newly created health care exchanges. We also request that the five-year ban on legal immigrants accessing Medicaid coverage be eliminated.
It is our view that proactively prohibiting undocumented immigrants from purchasing health care for their families is mean-spirited and contrary to sound public policy. Immigrants, who are generally younger and in good health, would spread the costs of health care insurance over a wider pool of recipients, thus bringing down health care rates for all Americans. Their inclusion in health care reform also would improve the health of immigrant communities and the general public health.
We also support the removal of the five-year ban on legal immigrants accessing Medicaid and other federal means-tested programs. Legal immigrants work and pay taxes just like U.S. citizens, and should benefit from the programs which their tax money funds. They also are on a path to citizenship and are permanent residents of our country and thus should be included in any health care reform.
As the House of Representatives considers health care reform, we ask that you work to include immigrants in any final measure. It is our belief that true reform will protect the vulnerable among us.
Thank you for your consideration of our views.
Most Reverend John C. Wester
Bishop of Salt Lake City, Utah
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration
Most Reverend José H. Gomez
Archbishop of San Antonio, Texas
Chairman-Elect, USCCB Committee on Migration
Most Reverend Gerald R. Barnes
Bishop of San Bernardino, California
Most Reverend Daniel Flores
Bishop of Brownsville, Texas
Most Reverend Richard Garcia
Bishop of Monterey, California
Most Reverend Carlos A. Sevilla SJ
Bishop of Yakima, Washington
Most Reverend Jaime Soto
Bishop of Sacramento, California
Most Reverend James A. Tamayo
Bishop of Laredo, Texas
Keywords: Health Care Reform, immigrants, immigration, Hispanic Bishops, Bishop John C. Wester, Archbishop José H. Gomez, USCCB Committee on Migration, Bishop Gerald Barnes, Bishop Daniel Flores, Bishop Richard Garcia, Bishop Carlos A. Sevilla, SJ, Bishop Jaime Soto, Bishop James Tamayo.