The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for more than 200 groups in New York State, and the African Services Committee (ASC) on Friday rallied together in Harlem demanding healthcare for Black immigrants in New York through the passage of the Coverage 4 All bill.
According to NYIC, leaders from both organizations spoke about the need to pass the legislation, and how the pandemic has exposed inequities in healthcare coverage especially for immigrant New Yorkers.
NYIC told Caribbean Life that impacted members from the surrounding community shared their struggles with a lack of healthcare access before and during the pandemic.
The rally came at the start of Black History Month to kick off a call to action to protect those most vulnerable from a lack of healthcare access.
“More than two years of a global pandemic and our state has still not contended with the disproportionate impact the pandemic is having on low-income Black and Brown communities across the state,” said Murad Awawdeh, NYIC’s executive director.
“Black New Yorkers and immigrant New Yorkers, many of whom were on the frontlines of COVID-19 from the start, continue to suffer the brunt of limited access to healthcare,” he added. “We cannot and should not ignore the burden that Black New Yorkers and immigrant communities across the city and state bear when facing life or death decisions about their health.
“If we are to truly come back as a stronger, fairer New York, Gov. Hochul and the Legislature must prioritize and pass health Coverage for All,” Awawdeh urged.
Amanda Lugg, ASC’s interim co-executive director, said: “The time is now to expand health care coverage for all New York residents, regardless of their immigration status.
“Celebrating Black History Month during the COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity to center the voices of immigrants, refugees, and asylees from across the African Diaspora in this call for action,” she added.
As of Tuesday, both versions of the Coverage 4 All bill (A880A/S1572A) have moved out of each legislative houses’ Health committees.
The Assembly bill will move to the Ways & Means Committee, while the Senate version is heading to Finance.
NYIC has placed the cost of the bill at $345 million in order to cover tens of thousands of uninsured New Yorkers.
#Coverage4All is a campaign to expand health insurance to all New Yorkers.
The campaign is a coalition of community members, community organizations, health care providers, legal service providers, and labor, immigrant and health care consumer advocates.
“Our objective is to create a statewide health insurance product for New Yorkers who are excluded from eligibility for coverage because of their immigration status, by enacting A880/S1572,” it said.
A campaign of Health Care for All New York (HCFANY), #Coverage4All is led by the New York Immigration Coalition and Make the Road New York.
Founded in 1981 by Ethiopian refugees to give a helping hand to other newcomers, today ASC said it is a multiservice human rights agency based in Harlem and dedicated to assisting immigrants, refugees and asylees from across the African Diaspora.