LULAC National Board Unanimously Supports the Improved Congressional Health Care Bill

March 20, 2010

Contact: Lizette Jenness Olmos
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Legislation would extend coverage to millions of uninsured Latinos, improve care, eliminate pre-existing conditions and dramatically slow the growth of skyrocketing premiums

Washington, DC – The National Board of Directors of the League of United Latin American Citizens, the largest and oldest Hispanic membership organization in the country, voted to unanimously support the passage of the Health Care & Education Affordability Reconciliation Act (H.R. 4872). With 1 in 3 Latinos—close to 16 million people—lacking health insurance coverage, Hispanic families have suffered more than any other ethnic group due to lack of coverage and inadequate care. The Health Care & Education Affordability Reconciliation Act will provide as many as 9 million uninsured Latinos with coverage; triple Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico; and increase the funding of community health centers to $11 billion.

“This historic legislation brings us closer to establishing health care as a civil right,” said LULAC National President Rosa Rosales. “While we have significant concerns that this bill still has left many Latino families without insurance, it nevertheless extends coverage to over 31 million Americans who do not have health insurance today and will help as many as 9 million uninsured Latinos receive care. We call upon every Member of Congress to support this legislation. American families cannot afford to wait any longer.”

The following are key aspects of the bill that led to the LULAC Board’s endorsement. It:

• Helps as many as 9 million uninsured Latinos receive coverage.
• Makes health care more affordable for low and moderate income Americans.
• Prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to those with preexisting conditions or dropping coverage of customers when they grow sick.
• Provides $6.3 billion in new Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico and the territories.
• Authorizes Puerto Rico to establish a health care exchange and provides an additional $1 billion in subsidies for low income Puerto Ricans to participate in the exchange.
• Provides $11 billion in funding for community health centers.
• Invests in prevention and wellness and eliminates deductibles or co-pays for preventive care in all new health plans.
• Elevates the Office of Minority Health within the Department of Health and Human Services.
• Reduces the national deficit by $130 billion over 10 years.

However, several key Latino concerns with aspects of the bill have still not been addressed, especially those that unfairly prevent immigrant communities from fully benefiting from the legislation. LULAC noted that while 95% of uninsured Americans overall were expected to receive coverage through the legislation, only 56% of uninsured Latinos were expected to receive care. LULAC will continue to press the White House and Congress to make changes to the legislation with the goal of expanding coverage to all Americans. A more equitable health care system would:

• Eliminate the 5-year waiting period for legal residents to have access to Medicaid.
• Allow undocumented immigrants to purchase insurance through the health care exchange with their own money and reduce verification barriers for U.S. citizens and legal residents who have low participation rates.
• Ensure Puerto Rico and the territories receive Medicaid and other federal health care support at the same level as other states of the Union.

“We have serious concerns that the health care bill continues to treat many Latino and immigrant families unfairly,” said Brent Wilkes, LULAC National Executive Director. “Nevertheless, this landmark legislation is a vast improvement upon the status quo for Latinos as it is for all Americans and we will continue to work after passage to make it better. Considering the tremendous good this bill can do and the severe consequences of inaction, we call upon every member of Congress to vote in favor of this legislation and to bring our nation closer to the goal of health care for all.”

The League of United Latin American Citizens, the oldest and largest Hispanic membership organization in the country, advances the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, health and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs operating at more than 700 LULAC councils nationwide.

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