WASHINGTON — The Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) applauds the reintroduction of the Health Equity and Access under the Law (HEAL) for Immigrant Women and Families Act. The bill would ensure that immigrants who are authorized to live and work in the United States are treated fairly by the health care system to which they contribute.

“The health of our families is so often overlooked in the immigration discussion, when it should be a major focus,” said Kathy Ko Chin, APIAHF president and CEO. “The HEAL Act does just that, by allowing immigrant women and their families to access the care they need and that their tax dollars support. Our country will be stronger and more successful when all residents have access to health care.”

If passed, the bill would restore eligibility for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program to lawfully present immigrants who currently face an excruciating five-year ban on coverage. The bill would also reinstate Medicaid coverage for Compact of Free Association (COFA) migrants from the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia who are also largely barred from accessing federal health programs. The federal government is obligated to provide for the health of COFA migrants as a result of America’s duty and commitment to these pacific jurisdictions, stemming from their unique relationship during post-World War II defense efforts and Compact Impact treaties.