For Immediate Release
January 16, 2009
Hemi Kim, NAKASEC, 202.253.4566
JuYeon Ryu, KRC, 714.728.0698
Sik Son, KRCC, 773.588.9158
Korean Americans Urge the Senate to Support Health Care for All Kids
Repeal the 5-year Bar on Immigrant Children and Pregnant Women
(Washington, D.C.) – In a signal to 30 million immigrants living and working in America, and the majority of Korean Americans that voted him into office, President-Elect Obama said, “ensuring that every child in America has access to affordable health care is not just good economic policy, but a moral obligation we hold as parents and citizens.” The National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) and its affiliates, the Korean American Resource & Cultural Center (KRCC) and the Korean Resource Center (KRC), support a State Children’s Health Insurance Program reauthorization (SCHIP) bill that includes the provision known as the Immigrant Children’s Health Improvement Act. Known as ICHIA, or “A Child Should Not Have to Wait 5 Years for Healthcare,” the provision would repeal the five-year federal bar in Medicaid and SCHIP for legal immigrants and pregnant women, which is currently in place for all legal immigrants who seek to access publicly-funded programs intended to help people when they fall on hard economic times.
Korean Americans understand the daily stress of not having health care; 1 in 2 adults and 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 are uninsured. Donghyun Lee, a 5th grader in Bellflower, CA, submitted artwork to the America’s Future Starts with Healthy Children Campaign and explains:
My neighbor, who is a 5-year old little girl, has had heart problems since birth and is in pain frequently, but she isn’t able to get treatments for her heart because she doesn’t have any insurance to cover it. Her father is here studying and can’t afford to buy insurance. Whenever I see her, I feel sorry for her… I’d like to become a doctor and help the poor.
In due course, advocates of healthcare for immigrants have been excited to see ICHIA swiftly pass through the House of Representatives, shepherded by Democratic Party leaders such as the offices of Speaker Pelosi and Majority Whip Clyburn.
On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee voted 12 to 7 to include ICHIA as an amendment. NAKASEC, as a member of both the Health Rights Organizing Project and the Coalition for Immigrant Equity in Healthcare, was disappointed to hear the same, false statements used by certain leaders to misinform and divide the public on issues, using immigrants as a wedge. Immigrants should know that the government does not consider healthcare to be a public charge.
Next stop is the Senate Floor – where our elected representatives will continue to play political football on an issue that the American public understands is a non-issue: repeal of the 5 year bar makes sense for the majority of American voters according to national polls.
Child artists who participated in a campaign to promote children’s healthcare had no difficulty understanding the issue. Vijeyta Revankar, a 6-year old attending 1st grade in Seabrook, TX shares that, “It’s not fair that some kids can’t go to the doctor!” Vijeyta will be in Washington, D.C. in two weeks to participate in the unveiling of the America’s Future Starts with Healthy Children art exhibits (www.iwanttobehealthytoo.org):
Friday, January 23, 2009, 9 am unveiling
Rayburn House Office Building, First Floor Foyer, Washington, DC
Viewing 9 am to 5 pm
Monday, January 26, 2009, 10 am unveiling
Union Station, West Hall, Washington, DC
Viewing all day, Monday, January 26 to Wednesday, January 28, 2009
The National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) is a grassroots public policy organization that promotes civil rights, immigrant rights, and the full participation of Korean Americans in U.S. society – on issues such as healthcare and immigration reform. NAKASEC and its affiliates believe that everyone living and working the United States should have access to quality, affordable medical care, and that a reformed State Children’s Health Insurance Program would be a first step to fix the healthcare system.
SCHIP is a program that funds two-thirds of programs that states have created to expand access to care for children in families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but cannot afford to purchase private insurance on their own. ICHIA is an effort to get rid of the five-year bar in SCHIP and Medicaid, starting with the most vulnerable and, meanwhile, often the healthiest among Americans: legal immigrant children and pregnant women.