State immigrant rights advocates call for healthcare funding

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — With the 2022 state legislative session set to adjourn on April 8, State Democrats pushed to pass a bill allowing healthcare for all, regardless of immigration status.

House Bill 4437, also known as the Healthy Illinois for All bill, was first introduced in January 2022 by State Rep. Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago).

“This would finally ensure that every single low-income person in our state has access to healthcare coverage, regardless of their immigration status,” Ramirez said. “Healthcare must be a human right.”

The Latino Legislative Caucus partnered with the Healthy Illinois Coalition in 2020, Ramirez said, to make Illinois the first state to give healthcare to all low-income seniors, regardless of immigration status. She said in 2021, the coverage was extended to include people ages 55-64.

Now, Ramirez continues to push for more extensions, and HB4437 would give healthcare coverage to people ages 19-54 who are low-income through “benefits identical to the benefits provided under the Health Benefits Service Package.”

Essentially, low-income individuals can enter a Medicaid-like program, regardless of immigration status.

In a press conference in Springfield Tuesday, Ramirez said the funds would come from the Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

About 149,000 people would be insured under this program, Ramirez said, and she argued it is cheaper for the state to insure them, rather than pay emergency room costs later.

“The loss of life and the strain on our healthcare system is preventable,” Ramirez said, “if we make the investment to offer all low-income members of our community access to preventative healthcare.”

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