KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Some Religious Groups Seek Health Care For Illegal Immigrants

Some religious groups are seeking health care for illegal immigrants.

NPR reports: "In the Hispanic community, there are issues in the debate over health care that spill over into the debate over immigration policy."

NPR interviews Rev. Luis Cortes Jr., president and CEO of a national network of 12,000 churches, ministries and community-based organizations called Esperanza, to discuss the reaction in the Hispanic community to the debate about health care reform: "Well, the entire issue of health care reform, the last few days has fallen into a conversation about what we're going to do with legal immigrants and undocumented people. And some political leaders on both sides of the isle, I must say, are putting forth ideas such as even if you are a legal immigrant, in other words, you have your documents, you cannot get health care, which is as un-American as you can get when you're saying someone is totally legal, their children are citizens. But if you haven't been, you still cannot buy into health care. And apparently, there's a group of Americans who feel it's very important that not happen, that our tax dollars be not used that way. We are willing to risk America's public health. And no one seems to be discussing that issue. The H1N1 virus, for example, will not ask any child, are you a citizen?" (Hansen, 9/20).

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reports: "Calling access to healthcare a moral and spiritual imperative, Los Angeles faith leaders held a religious service and launched a phone bank Friday to urge congressional leaders to include illegal immigrants in any healthcare reform plan. The question of whether illegal immigrants should have access to a government-sponsored health insurance marketplace has provoked heated debate and criticism of President Obama's proposals from both the left and right. Obama's position that his plans do not include illegal immigrants has been attacked as dishonest by some conservatives and as a betrayal by some liberals. According to a July 2009 study in the American Journal of Public Health, even immigrants with health insurance use less medical care than U.S.-born citizens and are less likely to suffer from arthritis, diabetes, coronary heart disease and other chronic health conditions" (9/18, Watanabe).

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