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Immigration bill offers big economic boost but no major health benefits
Date:8/14/2013

WASHINGTONA landmark immigration bill passed by the Senate would create new pathways to citizenship and provide a much-needed boost to the U.S. economy but would do little to ease immigration-related disparities in health care, according to a new report.

"The Senate bill represents the most significant bipartisan effort to reform immigration in many years," says Leighton Ku, PhD, MPH, the author of the new report and the director of the Center for Health Policy Research at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS). "It would modernize the nation's outmoded immigration system and let unauthorized immigrants earn a pathway to citizenship, but when it comes to health care, the bill offers no major changes."

The new report, which was funded in part by the Commonwealth Fund, analyzes the impact of the bill overall and specifically on health care. Ku found that the legislation would help clear the path for new legal immigration and help unauthorized immigrants earn legal status over more than a decade. That in turn, would expand the nation's workforce, bolster the economy and could help reduce the federal deficit, he says. The bill would also limit the future flow of unauthorized immigrants. But the issue brief also says that increasing access to health care for immigrants was not a high priority item in designing the bill, particularly in light of the continuing controversies about health reform.

For example, many not-yet-legal immigrants would be ineligible for most of the reforms under the Affordable Care Act, such as premium assistance or cost sharing subsidies, according to the analysis. Under the Senate bill, these immigrants could gain legal status, but remain ineligible for government assistance in obtaining health insurance or access to health care.

"Experience tells us that legalizing unauthorized immigrants will help them get better jobs in the long run. In turn, this may help
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Contact: Kathy Fackelmann
kfackelmann@gwu.edu
202-994-8354
George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services
Source:Eurekalert

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