Household cleaners, elected officials and members of Make the Road New York gathered outside of Governor Kathy Hochul’s New York City office to demand universal healthcare while unveiling a new report highlighting the urgent need for healthcare coverage for all.
The report from Make the Road New York surveyed 400 Latinx immigrant household cleaners across NYC and Westchester found that 50% of household cleaners don’t have access to health insurance, more than 50% were infected with COVID-19 during the first year of the pandemic and more than 80% of workers lost their jobs or income during the pandemic.
“Our study found that household cleaners who care for our homes are not receiving the care they need to stay healthy, and like many other immigrants and workers of color were disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” said Dr. Sherry Baron, Occupational Physician, Professor at the Barry Commoner Center for Health and the Environment at Queens College, “They work hard making sure that New Yorkers’ homes are cleaned and cared for, yet they do not have the resources to care for their own health. With programs like Coverage for All, cleaners and others will be able to access specialized care that can keep them healthy and can help them work more safely.”
During the press conference it was revealed that throughout the pandemic, immigrant New Yorkers have disproportionately risked their health and wellbeing while working in essential industries in order to continue to provide for their families and loved ones.
“Without health insurance it is nearly impossible for me to get access to healthcare,” Reyna Tellez, a member of Make the Road New York and a Queens resident said. “The out of pocket costs for visits leaves me choosing between necessities like rent and food for my two children or a doctor’s visit. Nobody should have to skip out on seeing a doctor because they cannot afford one. The health and safety of all should be important and should be a priority for Governor Hochul and legislature leaders. All New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, deserve access to healthcare and to a safety net when we fall on hard times.”
Undocumented New Yorkers have faced extreme choices throughout the pandemic, jeopardizing their health to continue to work in order to make ends meet. The March 30 press conference addressed the growing movement to push for Coverage for All to be included in the New York State Fiscal Year 2023 (FY 2023) budget.
Advocates and allies camped out together outside of Hochul’s Manhattan office last night to emphasize how dire the need for universal healthcare coverage is to their communities. Undocumented workers and their allies have been urging the governor to make healthcare a top priority in order to help the nearly 150,000 low-income workers currently barred from healthcare service because of their immigration status.
“From New York City to Albany, our immigrant justice advocates, families, and legislative allies are demanding that our undocumented neighbors not be left behind in this year’s budget,” said Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas. “Last night I was joined by several of my colleagues for a sleep out outside of Governor Hochul’s office to urge that we expand the essential plan to 154,000 New Yorkers in our state who are dying and suffering from exclusion. Today I echo the words of household cleaners who are asking for their dignity and humanity to be recognized. If we truly care about healthcare disparities we must provide coverage for all.”
With the New York State budget due in just a few days, cleaners called upon lawmakers in Albany to prioritize three major components of the state budget. These include allocating $345 million for the Coverage for All legislation, which would provide access to a health insurance option for low-income New Yorkers who are excluded from eligibility for health insurance coverage because of their immigration status; adding $3 billion for the Excluded Workers Fund and passing Excluded No More, a permanent alternative to unemployment insurance for excluded workers.
“No New Yorker should be denied health care because of immigration status,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair and Coverage for All bill sponsor, Richard Gottfried. “New York should be a progressive leader in promoting health equity, and expanding health coverage to undocumented adults is good fiscal and moral policy. It’s great news that both the Assembly and Senate have included [the] ‘Coverage for All’ bill in our one-House budget proposals. I thank Speaker Heastie and our Senate colleagues for their support and look forward to working with Governor Hochul to get this done.”