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Bill would ease immigrants’ access to health care

Rep. Deb Haaland introduced legislation last week that would allow undocumented immigrants easier access to health care.

The first-term Democrat, who represents most of the Albuquerque area, unveiled the Health Equity and Access under the Law for Immigrant Women and Families Act (HEAL Act) with Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.

The HEAL Act addresses three barriers to health care access for immigrants: It removes the five-year waiting period before immigrants become eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program; it enables undocumented people to purchase health insurance plans from the marketplace made available by the Affordable Care Act; and it restores Medicaid eligibility for Compact of Free Association migrants who hail from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau.

Jayapal and Haaland worked on the bill with support from the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.

Haaland said that the HEAL Act “allows immigrants to access the benefits they already pay for.”

“Under this administration, people in our country are denied access to health care because of where they come from – it’s not what we stand for,” Haaland said. “I’m leading this bill with Congresswoman Jayapal, because everyone in this country should be able to go to the doctor when they’re sick without having to weigh the cost against groceries or paying for electricity.”

UDALL BACKS ANTI-DRUNKEN DRIVING BILL: U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., introduced legislation that seeks to prevent drunken driving and save thousands of lives. The Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act of 2019 would promote the research and development of advanced alcohol detection technology and would require the implementation of such technology in new motor vehicles.

“The fact is that deaths from drunk driving are completely preventable – so we have an obligation to do everything we can to prevent such senseless tragedies,” the senator said. “I’ve been in this fight for a long time, and we’ve made real progress. But we are still losing thousands of lives each year to drunk driving crashes.”

The RIDE Act of 2019 would fund the technology transfer of federally funded research and development of advanced alcohol detection technology that detects whether a driver is impaired over the legal limit and, if so, prevents that driver from starting the car.

The act would set up a pilot program for fleet deployment of vehicles equipped with this technology with the federal General Services Administration, state and local partners, and private fleet owners.

The act would require a rulemaking process to mandate installation of the technology in every new vehicle. If all vehicles were equipped with this advanced alcohol detection technology, an estimated 7,000 lives could be saved every year, Udall’s office said.

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Rep.Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., are also sponsors of the bill.

HEINRICH CALLS FOR ELECTION SECURITY MEASURES: Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., is calling for action on election security following the release of the declassified summary of “Russia’s Use of Social Media,” the second volume of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections.

“This chapter provides a detailed look at how Russia weaponized social media to divide Americans and degrade our democratic institutions,” the Senate Intelligence Committee member said.

“The Committee’s investigation highlights that Russia’s assault on our social media platforms increased after the 2016 elections and continues today. Though the 2020 election is over a year away, voters’ minds are being shaped now – even as Russia continues its campaign to exploit divisions, amplify unfounded rumors, and degrade trust in our democracy.”

Scott Turner: sturner@abqjournal.com

 

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