Latino Leaders Stand with The President in Urging Congress to Act on Healthcare Reform
Posted on 01/27/2010 @ 02:11 PM
WASHINGTON, DC– Latinos United for Healthcare (LUH), a coalition of national Latino civil rights and advocacy organizations, leaders and community advocates united in support of comprehensive healthcare reform is calling upon Congress to continue with the passage of significant healthcare reform.
Tonight, President Obama made it clear, every minute that goes by hardworking families, most importantly, children lose much needed health care insurance. Among them, the Latino community stands as having the highest percentage of uninsured. In this day and age, it is unacceptable for our nation to delay this issue one day longer.
Most importantly, this should not be a partisan issue. Given the recent election in Massachusetts, LUH would like to encourage all members of Congress, regardless of party affiliation to make history by providing the long overdue healthcare reform that Americans deserve.
Our work as a coalition remains undone and LUH will continue to serve at the forefront of the healthcare reform debate. As negotiations move forward, LUH will ensure that Congress does not forget the unique needs of our nation's second largest population, Latinos. While we would like these needs addressed, we cannot even begin to discuss them if the process dies and another generation of American families goes without basic healthcare.
We urge our leaders in Congress to heed the words of President Obama and work towards a final compromise on healthcare reform legislation. A compromise that we hope is inclusive of our principles and which will benefit all Latinos and all Americans across the United States and its territories.
Latinos United for Healthcare (LUH) is a nonpartisan coalition of national, state and local Hispanic leaders and organizations that support the passage of significant healthcare reform that increases access to affordable, quality health coverage for all. For additional information, please visit www.latinosunitedforhealthcare.org .
How to read a 2,000 page bill
Posted on 12/08/2009 @ 02:11 PM
Bringing Change Home
By Jorge Mursuli, President and CEO Democracia-Ahora on 11/25/2009 @ 03:54 PM
In 2008, Latinos came out to vote as we’ve never voted before. Retrospectively, pundits and analysts mused over how it had all happened. Was it immigration? Culturally competent messengers? Increased resources? For those of us on the ground the answer was apparent: all of the above.
But there was something else, something that was bigger than any candidate or any issue, and that was our community’s desire for change. The bill that is in front of the Senate today is a much-needed starting point towards that change. It addresses our communities’ concerns around health disparities, inclusivity, and discrimination.
Now it’s up to us, the same voters who ushered in change, to make sure that this bill is improved so as to ensure the protection and inclusion of all members of our families.
It’s no surprise to anyone who works and lives in our communities that we as Latinos represent the highest percentage of uninsured. This means that we have the most to gain from the Senate’s health care bill. Paradoxically, it means we also have the most to lose if it does not pass and if certain issues are not addressed.
For example, when we talk about affordability – which is the ultimate barrier to health care access – it’s clear that a public option is a necessary means towards that end both in terms of offering increased choice and inspiring competition.
Further, it is time to move from an illness-based system of care to a preventative one. For our community in particular, that means promoting culturally and linguistically competent prevention and health care services, and recruiting more minorities into health professions. While many good doctors can provide diagnosis and care, it sometimes takes an enhanced level of cultural understanding to explain to immigrant mothers and fathers how best to care for their newborns and other loved ones.
In the next few weeks, our community will need to step up and continue our role as agents of change. Let’s encourage our Members of Congress to ensure that health reform is inclusive of our community’s unique needs, that it covers as many uninsured as possible and improves coverage for those who already have it.
Health Care Reform: An Urgent Matter for Latinos
By Hector E, Sanchez on 11/09/2009 @ 11:51 PM
The Latino community must be fully engaged in the health care debate. Health care is one of the basic pillars that provide the foundation for the social and economic advancement of any community and its absence can relegate people to a vicious cycle of poverty. The system that we have today is broken because it restricts and denies coverage to individuals that need it most. Latino families are losing their insurance due to onerous health care costs and pre-existing conditions, turning family medical emergencies into family financial emergencies that drive many into bankruptcy.
This is why the work of Latinos United for Health Care is critical. We need to make sure that the needs of our community are addressed when health care is debated and to make sure that no Latino is excluded from it.
In this debate Republicans and some Democrats are appeasing a conservative and/or anti-immigrant base by seeking to exclude immigrants from the reform, going as far as wanting to deny immigrants the ability to purchase private, unsubsidized insurance with their own money. Denying families the ability to pay for basic insurance will only drive them to unnecessary and expensive emergency room visits that everyone else then has to pay for. We should know by now that limiting health care access to some jeopardizes the health of all.
A public option must be at the core of any health care reform plan. The choice is clear: do we want a system in which corporations decide who is worthy of coverage and who is not, or a system that does not discriminate and covers all? It's ironic that the strongest advocates of a free market economy oppose the public option when it will ultimately stimulate competition, drive costs down and provide consumers with more affordable options. A public option will guarantee that Latinos have real choices when they are looking for accessible and affordable healthcare.
Health care reform has been postponed for far too long and we cannot wait any longer. It is an embarrassment to this nation that 47 million people here are uninsured. Latinos know too well the impact that lack of health care coverage has on our communities. Health care must stop being a privilege and become a basic right that everyone is entitled to.
NCLR Analysis of the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962)
Posted on 11/08/2009 @ 11:45 PM
Affordable Health Care for America Act
The National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, reviewed the U.S. House of Representatives merged health care reform legislation, the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962). Upon evaluation, we believe that the legislation takes fundamental steps toward fixing health care for most Americans, making it more affordable and accessible. H.R. 3962 will improve the health care experiences of Latinos, who have the highest uninsurance rates in the country; however, the legislation needs improvements to enhance quality and coverage for Latinos. At the end of this debate, the legislation should be evaluated to determine whether or not it increases health care coverage for Latinos and improves the quality of care they receive. Below, NCLR highlights several provisions of the bill that meet these goals and others which, through their exclusion or poor design, stand in the way of achieving these goals. Several key provisions and recommendations are highlighted below.
NCLR is encouraged by inclusion of the following provisions:
The vast majority of U.S. citizens and legal immigrants have access to affordability credits to make health insurance more affordable though an Exchange. By incorporating a family- based application process for the Exchange and inserting some core protections in the verification process, the House will ensure that application and enrollment will be smooth and streamlined for the majority of Americans. NCLR and other stakeholders representing a variety of communities have warned Congress that excessive verification can cause undue harm to Americans. The provisions contained in H.R. 3962 strike the right balance by facilitating access to credits for eligible Americans rather than risking shutting them out. Furthermore, the House has ensured that households are treated equitably when determining the amount of affordability credit that a household receives. This ensures that no U.S. citizen or legal immigrant goes without the financial resources to purchase insurance because of who their family members are. Federal poverty level determinations are made equitably for American households.
All individuals are allowed to purchase insurance in the Exchange on their own. The administration s position to exclude undocumented residents from purchasing private insurance with their own money in the new Exchange is harmful to the basic ideals of reform. The most damage is likely to be exacted on U.S. citizens and legal immigrants in these households, who will face roadblocks to health care due to the amount of bureaucracy that is required to carve undocumented immigrants out of full-priced health coverage. Denying access to the Exchange leaves these individuals uninsured and will force unnecessary delays in care. Health problems grow more urgent and their treatment more expensive. Individuals who are willing to purchasehealth insurance in the Exchange on their own without any taxpayer dollars should be afforded that opportunity in health care reform legislation. NCLR applauds the House for resisting such a proposal and ensuring that reform fosters participation of individuals in the new Exchange, even when they are not eligible for federal support. It should be noted that the House of Representatives does not extend any generosity toward undocumented immigrants. They are excluded from all subsidies and federally-funded health insurance programs.
Prevention is emphasized. The House seeks to eliminate the nation s current practice of sick care by beginning to shift the paradigm of health care to prevention and primary care. The new infrastructure would promote health through guaranteed coverage of preventive services, a robust set of resources for community health centers, and investment in the public health infrastructure to prevent the spread of disease. It ensures that illness and disease is detected at the earliest stages and that the healthy have the resources to stay that way. This approach is particularly important for Latinos who experience significant barriers to health care and information they need to maintain good health.
Inequality in health care is confronted. Poor quality and lack of access to health care have been deeply embedded in our health care system. These problems are exacerbated for communities of color, even when they have access to insurance. The House legislation goes far to improve health care delivery through a number of steps endorsed by the congressional Tri- Caucus. Access to health care will be enhanced through new resources to expand and diversify the workforce. A medical homes program will enable providers to find more holistic methods of addressing the various health needs of patients. Furthermore, the new system will require that culturally and linguistically appropriate care be integrated across aspects of the system. Finally, comprehensive data collection will ensure that care disparities continue to be identified within our health care system to inform our national leaders about gaps in our health care system.
Civil rights are reaffirmed and protected. The legislation prohibits discrimination based on personal characteristics, ensuring that people of different races, ethnicities, creeds, and colors have strengthened rights to fair treatment in health care settings. This is essential considering the ample evidence indicating that Latinos and other communities of colors face disparate treatment when accessing health care at all socioeconomic statuses. It is important that a new health care system will provide the undeniable right to health care without discrimination.
Puerto Rico can expand health care for its citizens. Puerto Rico and the U.S. territories are no longer left out of many of the new expansions of health care access in the legislation. Throughout the bill, Puerto Rico is included in numerous provisions designed to make health insurance more affordable and accessible. Most prominently, the House bill takes a critical step to improve health care for Puerto Rican residents by ensuring that the commonwealth has the option to participate in the Exchange. Puerto Rico will also receive an increase in its Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP), which is guaranteed for several years after the bill s allotment, improving its ability to provide health care services to Medicaid-eligible Puerto Ricans.
H.R. 3962 offers a promising road forward. However, NCLR remains concerned about the lack of action to fully integrate legal immigrants into the legislation and several weaknesses that could deeply impact Latinos access to health care. We strongly urge Congress to move forward on H.R. 3962 but believe that we must make improvements to the bill that address the following:
Mandate the removal of the five-year bar. To promote an equitable system for all, we must remove remaining restrictions for legal immigrants to access Medicaid, Medicare, and the Children s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), including the five-year bar that keeps lawfully present individuals from gaining access to affordable health coverage. Legal immigrants who have paid the same taxes as U.S. citizens should have access to programs that they have helped fund when they fall on hard times. Mandating coverage for legal immigrants would ensure that these individuals have the opportunity to fulfill their responsibility to obtain insurance and lead healthy lives.
Improve affordability. Through the House legislation, thousands more dollars are likely to stay in the pockets of individuals because of insurance premium caps that are stronger than those found in the Senate legislation. However, the House continues to include provisions that could cost many people as much as 10% of their income in insurance premiums, without regard to out- of-pocket costs. For the average individual, this is too expensive. We encourage the House to continue to revisit this proposal and identify ways to improve affordability. Ideally, for health care to remain affordable, total out-of-pockets costs for medical expenditures should not exceed 10% of income for middle-class Americans and 5% for low-income Americans.
Remove roadblocks to insurance. Paperwork and excessive verification can contribute to time delays and higher costs for people enrolling in insurance. There are numerous studies which show that while there is no evidence of abuse of our health care resources by ineligible immigrants, verification raises costs, provides barriers to health care, and has been proven to eliminate access to health coverage for many U.S. citizens. Health care reform should be as streamlined as possible to facilitate access to care. Protections should be incorporated that protect misuse of personal information when verification is implemented and ensure that all individuals are given the full opportunity to remain eligible throughout the application process. No one should be denied access to coverage because of a cumbersome and inefficacious verification process.
Special Issue of Medical Journal Explores Latino Health and Health Care
Posted on 11/04/2009 @ 08:44 PM
The Network for Multicultural Research on Health and Healthcare, a consortium of researchers from major research institutions around the country, has produced a special supplement of the Journal of General Internal Medicine examining Latinos and health care, shedding light on important issues that have been left out of the health care reform debate.
This issue, Confronting Health Inequities in Latino Health Care, comprises nine studies examining hypertension, diabetes, health insurance coverage, discrimination, quality of care, spirituality, preventive care, and other topics on Latino health and health care.
Among the key findings:
Two thirds of Mexican Americans in the United States do not have a “patient-centered medical home.” That means they are less likely to receive regular health care that meets basic standards for adequacy, either preventive or when they get sick, with a resulting reliance on emergency rooms or other high-cost health care to address basic health care needs.
- U.S. Latinos with health insurance are 1.5 times more likely to report having excellent/good health care than their uninsured counterparts. Meanwhile, 60 percent of Latinos who are not U.S. citizens or are undocumented do not have health insurance.
- Nearly 70 percent of Latinos think that spiritual healing is very important in maintaining health and well being.
- U.S.-born Latinos report higher rates of discrimination and lower quality of care than foreign-born Latinos.
"Our research brings to light many quality of care issues for Latinos navigating today’s health care system,” said guest editor William Vega, Ph.D., co-director of the Network for Multicultural Research on Health and Healthcare at UCLA.
Reform Effort Moving Forward As House Introduces Bill
By Elena Rios on 10/30/2009 @ 04:33 PM
Yesterday, leaders in the House of Representatives introduced legislation that combines the versions of health care reform passed by three different House committees earlier this year. Titled, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, this bill is a significant step toward achieving health care reform that makes quality care affordable for more Americans.
While we are still combing through the 1,990-page document to see how it will impact Latinos, there are several promising elements that will help Latinos lead healthier lives. First, the bill has a strong emphasis on prevention, banning co-pays for preventive care and funds to promote healthier lifestyles. Second, the bill provides affordability credits that will help make coverage more affordable for many lower income Latinos. Third, the bill does not contain costly and counter-productive verification requirements to participate in the private insurance exchange. Such requirements have no place in a private market and usually result in shutting seniors and low-income citizens out of services they deserve.
As we continue to comb through the House bill, and look toward the Senate to produce its own legislation, we’ll be looking for provisions that are particularly important to Latinos. In addition to making health insurance better and more affordable, we need a bill that takes significant steps toward ending health disparities and doesn’t discriminate against Latinos, including legal immigrants and those in Puerto Rico.
Ending health disparities requires a multi-pronged approach: in addition to prevention, any bill needs to address cultural and linguistic services and training of health providers, place health providers in underserved communities, recruit more minority students to the health professions, and collect health data by race, ethnicity and language.
In the days ahead, visit www.latinosunitedforhealthcare.org for analyses of the House bill and more of the latest information about the ongoing effort to pass meaningful health care reform.
LULAC National President Rosa Rosales Releases Statement on the Inclusion of Puerto Rico in the House Bill
By Rosa Rosales on 10/30/2009 @ 03:45 PM
Washington, DC – The League of United Latin American Citizens National President Rosa Rosales hails the inclusion of Puerto Rico in legislation rolled out by House Democrats yesterday. A vote is likely to take place next week.
“The House bill presented today is a triumph for all of Puerto Rico. The island will receive an unprecedented amount of funds and we are on track to meet our goal that not a single Puerto Rican is without adequate insurance.
The legislation includes important provisions that will allow the government of Puerto Rico to provide healthcare coverage to the more than 400,000 islanders who don’t have a medical plan or whose coverage falls short.
The plan would bring $12.8 billion in Medicaid funds to Puerto Rico between 2011 and 2019, a dramatic $9.1 billion increase over current funding under the federal program for low-income patients. The island would receive another $3.7 billion in an insurance exchange program and allow coverage for Puerto Rico residents of moderate incomes who don’t qualify for the local Health Reform.
Importantly, the House bill would require the federal Department of Health and Human Services to present a plan to Congress before October 1, 2013 a detailed plan on bringing Puerto Rico to full parity in Medicaid funding.
The Senate Finance Committee plan, meanwhile, would grant Puerto Rico and the territories a smaller Medicaid boost, or around $7 billion, and not provide access to the exchange. A competing plan from another Senate panel envisions including the territories.”
The League of United Latin American Citizens, the largest and oldest Hispanic membership organization in the country, advances the economic conditions, educational attainment, political influence, health, housing and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs operating at more than 700 LULAC councils nationwide.
Listen to Latinos United for Healthcare Launch
Posted on 10/27/2009 @ 02:26 PM
"Today, Latino leaders from civil rights and advocacy organizations launched a new campaign, Latinos United for Healthcare, to ensure that the voice of the Latino community is heard throughout the healthcare debate. To hear the full audio of today’s national media call, please click on the audio player below. Afterward, make sure you visit www.latinosunitedforhealthcare.org to learn more and sign the petition.”
Fighting for Reform
By Lillian Rodriguez-Lopez on 10/26/2009 @ 12:00 PM
We’ve heard loud and clear from those who oppose health care reform and we’ve heard the President and others fire back at those critics, but at the end of the day, where do Latinos stand in this debate?
Today we’re launching Latinos United for Healthcare to ensure there’s no doubt where we stand: we stand for reform. Latinos United for Healthcare is a broad coalition of Latino organizations and leaders from across the country who have come together with the common purpose of amplifying the voice of the Latino community in the current national debate.
When there’s a system that leaves 47 million without health insurance coverage, including one in three Latinos, and in which over 45,000 die every year from lack of coverage, then it’s about time we fix the system. When Latinos suffer from stark disparities in rates of asthma, lung cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS and other diseases, we can’t stand for anything else but reform. When Latinos, like so many fellow Americans, are denied coverage for pre-existing conditions or dropped from their insurance plans at the moment they need coverage the most, it’s time to say enough is enough.
We need meaningful reform that brings down costs and makes quality health insurance more affordable for all, lets people keep their existing coverage if they so choose, promotes wellness and prevention, reduces health disparities, eliminates the five-year ban on legal immigrants’ access to health services, and ensures equal treatment for the Americans of Puerto Rico.
Quite literally, health care reform will save lives. That’s the bottom line that matters most. It’s why we’ve come together and it’s why we’ll fight vigorously for inclusion in this debate and full reform.
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