Speaker Welch, Health Advocates Celebrate Historic Health Care Expansion for Undocumented Seniors

Speaker Welch
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Speaker Welch, Health Advocates Celebrate Historic Health Care Expansion for Undocumented Seniors (Chicago, IL) – House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, Majority Leader Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and Assistant Majority Leader Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago) joined advocates to celebrate Illinois being the first state in the nation to offer health care coverage to seniors regardless of their immigration status.

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“We knew there were inequities within our health care systems, but the pandemic has put them on full display,” said Welch. “Health care is a basic human right and quality affordable health care should be accessible for every Illinoisan.”

Healthy Illinois worked with Leader Ramirez to pass this legislation that allows coverage for seniors 65 and older who are undocumented or have been legal permanent residents for less than five years. Those who are in the program must have an income at or below the federal poverty level and it will cover hospital and doctor visits, prescription drugs and dental and vision care.

“I am proud that Illinois has chosen to take this important first step to care for our most vulnerable and know that we will continue to work towards universal health care for all,” said Ramirez. “Our health outcomes should not be determined by a zip code, last name or country of origin.”

Illinois is the first state to approve such a program. California is now working on adopting a similar proposal.

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“We have set the path for the entire country being the first state to go down this path,” said Leader Harris, the House Chief Budgeteer. “We made history ending the nonsensical policy of denying health care to someone just because of their documentation status. It was the right thing to do.”

The program has already served thousands of immigrants and will continue to save taxpayer dollars that are incurred due to uninsured patients seeking care when situations are dire.

“I want to thank Speaker Chris Welch,” said Leader Ramirez. “As a state representative for the last 10 years, he said I will stand with you and will continue to fight until we have expanded coverage. This past year, as Speaker, he has done exactly that. It’s really easy to say ‘how are we going to pay for it?’ or ‘maybe next year,’ but this man has stood with us.”

“There is no reason, in our nation, that someone should have to choose between a lifetime of debt or getting the health care they need and deserve,” said Welch.

Speaker Welch, Health Advocates Celebrate Historic Health Care Expansion for Undocumented Seniors

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