Health care reform has reached yet another make it or break it point, with some digging in their heels on what they consider too many concessions and some others not wasting any time and using the opportunity to try to derail health care reform.
Some senators--of both parties we hope-- still strive to get the job done for millions of Americans who badly need this reform, and to endow this bill with as much fairness as possible. One such senator is Robert Menendez (D-NJ) who has decided to champion the cause of fairness to immigrants -- legal immigrants who work hard, pay taxes and reside in the U.S. with government authorization. The Menezdez Amendment would give states the option to lift the five-year waiting period for legal immigrants to obtain Medicaid coverage.
In a December 14 letter to senators the bishops urged support for the Menendez Amendment, which is in line with one of three key concerns they have been asking Congress to address all along: respect life and conscience; affordability; and fair access for immigrants.
Our country departs from its founding principle of justice for all when it singles out a group of people and arbitrarily denies them rights due to them. Even those who do not consider access to health care a basic human right should agree that people who pay into the system, and who have authorization to work and live here, should be entitled to benefit from it in times of need. Whether they were born here or not is incidental.
The Menezdez Amendment offers Congress and opportunity to right a wrong, and to do so in an easy, efficient manner.
Some estimate that as many as 600,000 people could benefit if the states in turn do their part. We all will benefit from allowing the immigrant community to have access to health care and stay healthy.
They pay. Let them have their fair share, the bishops say.
Que viva Menendez! (Hooray for Menendez!) Let his amendment live!