Former NYLPI Health Justice Client Speaks to the Necessity of Life-Saving Health Coverage Regardless of Citizenship Status

January 25, 2024

Disability Justice, Health Justice, Immigrant Justice, Media Coverage, News, Transplant Equity, UndocuCare, UndocuCare TGNCI+

An image shows the Statue of Liberty with a stethoscope around its neck, and the "Coverage 4 all" logo and web address

Last week, NYLPI’s Health Justice team joined the #Coverage4All Coalition for a rally to demand New York State expand healthcare coverage to all low-income New Yorkers by amending the 1332 federal waiver and passing Coverage for All (S2237B/ A3020B) legislation in the state budget.

At the rally, Javier shared his experiences with accessing a kidney transplant, highlighting the need for healthcare access regardless of citizenship status at the campaign re-launch:

I heard of this specific organization on the news that was helping undocumented immigrants with long-term or serious illnesses get health insurance, the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. With a lot of faith for them to help me, I called this organization and explained my case about my End Stage Renal disease, dialysis, and expectations of kidney transplantation. Not only did they help me get health insurance for my transplant, but they helped me with my immigration case, too, as I was married to my beautiful wife that sponsored me to become a permanent resident.

I had my kidney transplant thanks to NYLPI and my hero, who donated me a piece of her life, my sister, Ana, on November 20, 2018 at Mount Sinai Hospital. After the transplant, I was able to have a full and healthy life again. While I was on dialysis, it was hard to find a job. But after the transplant, I got my freedom back, I was able to work for four years, to travel. I got my GED and now I want to go back to college to study accounting.

We should all be able to access healthcare no matter our citizenship status. While I am a citizen now, I can still feel the experience of struggling to access healthcare when you are undocumented. People surrounding me are undocumented and they can only access emergency Medicaid for their health problems, but emergency Medicaid doesn’t cover proper treatment for chronic long term illnesses like kidney disease and cancer.

I am here as a witness to show you how hard it is to be undocumented and to give the best of ourselves to this great city and state and to still not be able to get health insurance to cover our essential health issues. We have to work double to prove ourselves worthy of a job, we’re willing to work overtime and do anything to earn our daily bread. Even as undocumented people, we’re paying our taxes. At minimum, these tax dollars should also help cover our health insurance so we can continue to contribute to this society.”

Watch the video on the NYLPI YouTube channel here.

Read NYLPI’s recent Transplant Equity report, “They Can Donate But They Can’t Receive,” and learn more how you can help here.

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