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Categorized | Health, Opinion

Would You Wait Five Years for a Doctor’s Appointment?

If you are a legal immigrant in the United States, you might have to.

As the debate over how to reform our current health care system moves forward, the issue of whether we should allow legal immigrants to access health care reform continues to raise red.  Under the health care reform bill currently before the Senate, legally-present immigrants remain barred from Medicaid for five years, even if they meet all other qualifications.

At the same time, they are required to purchase insurance just like every other American.  This means that immigrants of moderate means may not have access to any other form of affordable health insurance.  Many legal immigrants will have to rely on measures of last resort, such as emergency rooms.

This restriction has been in place for more than 13 years, but the Senate now has the chance to eliminate this harsh measure.  Earlier this year, Congress took a major step toward immigrant equity in health care by giving states the option to remove the waiting period for immigrant children and pregnant women who enter the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

But many legal immigrants remain excluded from these options.

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