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Health Care Coverage for Immigrant Youth a Moral Obligation

Health Care Coverage for Immigrant Youth a Moral Obligation

Last month, the Obama Administration announced that youth who are eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival status would not qualify for benefits extended under the Affordable Care Act. This excludes these young immigrants from accessing crucial preventative services, acquiring health care through the new exchanges, or receiving assistance from federal programs such as Medicaid or CHIP.

Earlier today, Rabbi David Saperstein submitted his comments on this regulation, urging the Administration to reconsider this misguided policy. He wrote:

“Excluding DACA-eligible youth from coverage undercuts the spirit of the Dream Act, DACA and the ACA. The goals of DACA are that DREAM Act eligible students can live in and contribute to the U.S. without fear of deportation and work to provide for themselves and their families.  The ACA aims to reduce health disparities and to extend near-universal health care coverage, including to those who are most vulnerable. Prohibiting young adults from receiving core benefits including Medicaid or CHIP, participating in the newly created exchanges, or accessing necessary preventative services undermines both of these laudable aims.

As Reform Jews, we are commanded to love the stranger, for we were strangers in the land of Egypt (Deuteronomy 10:19), leading Jewish law to accord the “resident alien” the same social benefits granted to Jewish citizens. Inspired by this core principle today, the Reform Movement has long advocated for comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act. We have also been at the forefront of the faith community’s advocacy for health reform and universal health care. These goals are not mutually exclusive.”

The proposed changes take the form of a Department of Health and Human Services regulation. This means that they are open to public comment. Act now to make your voice heard and submit a comment to Secretary Sebelius!

Published: 10/19/2012

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