NAKASEC statement re: SCHIP Passage in Senate with Immigrant Provisions

For Immediate Release: January 29, 2009

Contacts:
Hemi Kim, NAKASEC, 202.339.9318
JuYeon Ryu, KRC, 323.937.3718
Son Shik, KRCC, 773.588.9158

Korean Americans Celebrate Passage of Children’s Health Bill in Senate
Reversal of More than 10 years of Anti-Immigrant Policy Will Remove the Five-Year Bar for Immigrant Children and Pregnant Women to Children’s Healthcare Program

(Los Angeles, CA) – This evening, the Senate voted 66 to 32 to support the reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program with the five year bar on legal immigrant children and pregnant women lifted. With the House version passed last week, America’s children are within days of having a final bill for President Barack Obama to sign into law. Passage of this bill is seen as a sign of how healthcare reform legislation in 2009 will address the health needs of people in the United States.

Health care is an unaffordable human need for Korean Americans, who are more than twice as likely as whites to go without health insurance.  Nationwide, 1 out of 2 adults and 1 out of 4 children are uninsured within the Korean American community.

“Everyone who lives and works in the United States should be able to get the medical care that they need. Reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program is a great first step towards larger healthcare reforms that would benefit everyone,” says EunSook Lee, Executive Director of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC).

The Korean Resource Center (KRC) conceived of, and co-led with NAKASEC, a national campaign to achieve access to affordable health insurance for children and their families, towards the larger goal of universal coverage. As part of the Health Rights Organizing Project, the two groups collaborated with others to stage a related art exhibit this past week in Washington, DC.  Delegations of exhibited young artists and campaign organizers met with legislators about the importance of promoting healthcare for all children.

“Korean Americans have high rates of self-employment and face difficulties paying for the high costs of health insurance,” says Becky Belcore, Executive Director of Korean American Resource & Cultural Center (KRCC), NAKASEC’s Chicago affiliate that has a workplace justice program, and that sent two staff to support legislative and media outreach for the art exhibit in DC.

“Korean Americans are predominantly immigrants, so it makes sense that exit polls from November 4, 2008 showed majority support for access to healthcare for all Americans, including immigrants,” says Dae Joong Yoon, Executive Director of KRC in Los Angeles. Early last summer, KRC organizers engaged several thousand community members to sign letters to Congress stating their support for children’s healthcare.  KRC also engaged hundreds of artists through an intensive outreach effort to talk to young people about healthcare.

To interview impacted individuals or to speak with a NAKASEC representative for comment, please contact Hemi Kim, NAKASEC, 202.339.9318; JuYeon Ryu, KRC, 323.937.3718; or Son Shik, KRCC, 773.588.9158.
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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 (CHIP) would be a first step to fix the healthcare system.

CHIP 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. NAKASEC supported a provision in a reauthorized CHIP bill that would remove the five-year bar in CHIP and Medicaid, starting with the most vulnerable and, meanwhile, often the healthiest among Americans: legal immigrant children and pregnant women.

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