2018 NHMA Policy Statements

October 2018:

Washington, DC (October 25, 2018) — The National Hispanic Medical Association has issued the following statement in response to the announcement made by the Department of Health and Human Services on changes to the Medicare Part B program:

“The mission of the National Hispanic Medical Association is to improve the health of Hispanic and other underserved populations. Medicare Part B programs serve as a key part of this initiative, by providing treatment coverage to patients living with chronic conditions such as cancer. Physicians to chronically ill patients often must specialize in care plans based on each person’s unique needs to ensure the treatment is effective.

The proposed changes would insert middlemen into that process, disrupting the crucial doctor-patient relationship and potentially restricting access to treatments. Additionally, the included reimbursement model changes could further limit the range of treatment options offered. Put simply, this proposal could have detrimental effects on the overall health of Hispanic patients and the senior population at large.”

September 2018:

Trump Administration proposed a change to Immigration Policy will harm our Community

The National Hispanic Medical Association, representing 50,000 Hispanic physicians, strongly opposes the Public Charge Proposal that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced on September 22, 2018. “The proposed rule change would greatly undermine achievements made in access to prevention and medical care for Latino legal immigrants by limiting nutrition, health care, and medications and housing assistance programs, which are essential to living a healthy life,” said Dr. Elena Rios, president & CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association, and we fear many immigrants who have been long-term U.S. workers will be deported.”

Since 1892, the Federal immigration law has a “public charge” test that makes immigrants ineligible for entry to the United States or permanent residence (green card), if they depend or may in the future depend on government as their main resource for living expenses. Under current policy government support of emergency health care, prevention of infectious diseases, disaster relief, nutrition programs, and housing assistance programs are not counted towards public charge. The benefi­ts considered in determining who is likely to become a public charge are cash assistance such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and government-funded institutional long-term care. Furthermore, the Clinton-era welfare reforms already put major social service programs out of reach for most legal immigrants until they’ve been here for five years.

The Trump Administration is now calling for healthcare and other benefits that meet basic needs that could be considered in a “public charge” determination such as:

  • Non-emergency Medicaid (with limited exceptions for certain disability services related to education),
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP),
  • Low-Income Subsidy for prescription drug costs under Medicare Part D, and
  • Housing assistance such as Section 8 housing vouchers.

The proposal would make—and has already made—immigrant families afraid to seek programs that support their basic needs. If the rule is ­finalized in its proposed form, this would mark a signifi­cant and harmful departure from the current policy and call for a direct attack at poor immigrants, thus favoring upper-class immigrants.  And it is irresponsible of this administration to make immigrant families choose between keeping their families healthy or risk being denied a green card.  Many poor immigrant families have children who are eligible for these public benefits as American citizens, and their parents should not be punished for utilizing these services.

The National Hispanic Medical Association will submit and encourage its partners to submit public comments opposing the Trump Administration public charge rule change proposal, in order to support poor Latino legal immigrants. We are a country of immigrants, who are the backbone of the economy.

The National Hispanic Medical Association released the following statement regarding issues affecting the Medicare Part D program:

“With Congress back from August recess, we strongly encourage members to address recent and impending changes to Medicare Part D that threaten to weaken the program’s competitive structure and increase out-of-pocket spending for beneficiaries. The looming out-of-pocket cliff – set to take effect in 2020 – will increase the amount of spending needed to enter catastrophic coverage by $1,250. Additionally, certain changes included in the recently passed Bipartisan Budget Act threaten to upend the competitive marketplace that keeps costs low for beneficiaries.

“As physicians representing the often under-served Hispanic community, we have seen firsthand how harmful changes to the Part D program can negatively impact access to care for minority patients. We call on Congress to prioritize these issue and commit to passing a legislative fix that protects both the Part D program and the already vulnerable patients that rely on it.”

July 2018:

Statement Of The National Hispanic Medical Association On Trump Immigration Policy

Jul 5, 2018, 3:13pm EDT

WASHINGTON, July 5, 2018/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Latino health care professionals are outraged at the Trump Administration zero-tolerance policy – on refugees who are fleeing persecution and other immigrants – that has separated 2000 children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.  Our organizations’ priorities are to improve the health and wellness of Latinos and this Federal immigration policy will lead to worsening health disparities in our communities.

Medical research shows children do not have the capacity to cope with an overwhelming and devastating environment that causes immense levels of stress in the short-term, and mental and physical diseases in the long term.  The affected children’s deregulated healthy stress pathways will lead to future severe mental illness such as depression, suicide, and schizophrenia decreased immune protection leading to cancers, cardiovascular and other diseases, and decreased cognitive abilities.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) sends the separated children to detention centers across the nation and will release them to relatives or foster families. There are no protocols for keeping track of parents and children concurrently, for keeping parents and children in contact with each other, or for eventually reuniting them. In some cases, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deports parents before reuniting them with their children. Moreover, we believe that our broken immigration policy is not going to deter more immigrants from coming to America for a better life.

We believe that the U.S. should abide by international human rights law created after World War II that says to separate parents and children is prohibitive. We call for Congress to focus on comprehensive immigration policies including those that decrease the backlog of U.S. immigrant applications, abbreviate the legal review process for refugees and others at the border, expand Federal immigration judges, lawyers, and related workforce, and protect the dreamers with a new path to citizenship. We call for policies that will improve the quality of life of all Americans.

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View original content: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/statement-of-the-national-hispanic-medical-association-on-trump-immigration-policy-300676730.html

June 2018

Two bills on immigration will finally go to the floor this week to potentially decide the fate of around 1.8 million “Dreamers” as well as other immigration policies. After President Trump canceled Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in September, Congress has struggled to formulate legislation to replace it, eventually launching a discharge petition, headed by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), which fell just two signatures shy of what was needed to force a floor vote. The discharge petition would have looked at a path to citizenship for “Dreamers,” pairing that path to increased border security. With that off the table, for now, Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (R-VA) legislation known as Securing America’s Future and a compromise bill drafted by House Republicans will get a House vote this week, with neither currently expected to pass. President Trump will make a rare visit to Capitol Hill this evening to discuss both bills.

Securing America’s Future gives people who were registered under DACA 3-year renewable legal status with no special path to a green card. Citizens may not sponsor parents, adult children, brothers or sisters, very stringent regulations on “chain migration.” Unlawful presence is also criminalized in this bill, community trust policies are restricted, the diversity visa program is eliminated, annual immigration levels are decreased, and employers are required to make sure a new employee is a legal citizen.

The compromise bill was released by Republicans the afternoon of Thursday, June 14th, then to their surprise, was denounced by President Trump Friday morning. The White House released a statement later that day, though, that Trump would support the bill. The compromise bill promises legal protections for “Dreamers,” allowing them to apply for “nonimmigrant status” and then 6 years later to apply for a green card. The bill also allocates $23.4 billion for Trump’s border wall. This bill would allow for “Dreamers,” once citizens, to seek green cards for their parents. Chain migration would be limited. The bill also aims to stop the separation of children from their parents at the border and does not mandate e-verify for employers. Democrats are unlikely to vote for either bill, and conservative Republicans likely won’t be convinced to vote for the moderate proposal.

NHMA is supportive of bills that allow for a clear path to citizenship for Dreamers, who are hardworking members of our society and add millions to our economy. Unfortunately, none of these bills allow for this and make the path to citizenship a long and costly process. We urge you to call your Representative (go here to type in your zip code and find who your Representative is and their contact information) and tell them that Dreamers deserve a clear path to citizenship, without a Border Wall.