ANNAPOLIS, MD — Members of the immigrant advocacy powerhouse CASA celebrate the passage of the Healthy Babies Equity Act, which expands Medicaid to cover prenatal and postpartum care to pregnant people regardless of immigration status. The bill became law last night after the Governor failed to veto it after passing in both the House and Senate with veto-proof majorities. The Healthy Babies Equity Act, championed and sponsored by Vice-Chair Peña-Melynk and Senator Lam, will go into effect on July 1, 2022. The victory comes after months of grassroots advocacy alongside a diverse coalition of healthcare, faith-based, and civil rights partners. The win- led by immigrant mothers from across the state- included the launching of the #MommyBabyChallenge campaign that shared 150+ photos of mothers and their babies, virtual lobby meetings, and in the last few weeks of the Maryland legislative session, daily mini rallies outside the statehouse.
🚨BREAKING NEWS🚨The Healthy Babies Equity Act is now law in Maryland! The bill, that expands Medicaid to ALL pregnant mothers regardless of immigration status, is a victory for the immigrant families across the state! #MommyBabyChallenge #HB1080 #HealthyBabiesEquityAct pic.twitter.com/9ow1DRgUi2— CASA (@CASAforall) April 9, 2022
“This victory, powered by immigrant mothers across the state, will keep pregnant mothers and their babies safe and healthy,” said Cathryn Ann Paul, CASA’s Government Relations and Public Policy Manager. “We applaud the leadership of Speaker Adrienne Jones and President Bill Ferguson for their commitment to immigrant families and every legislator who voted to prioritize immigrant health. Today, we celebrate not just the passage of the Healthy Babies Equity Act, but a step closer in our fight to ensure care for all Marylanders, regardless of immigration status.”
Pregnant moms like Arelis in Columbia, Maryland, spoke in favor of the bill. Three months pregnant with twins, this single mom has a high-risk pregnancy because of several cysts and internal bleeding. Without insurance, she makes the difficult choice not to visit the ob/gyn to avoid the expensive bills that will result.
“I don’t want to lose my babies, but I also can’t afford the medical bills that come from this health problem,” said Arelis. “Bills like this one can safeguard moms like me from making impossible choices. No one should be faced with getting a bill they can’t pay off and getting the right care. For some mothers, prenatal care can be the difference between life and death. That’s why I fought for this bill.”
CASA’s Maryland members – thousands of Black and brown immigrants strong – have identified healthcare as the organization’s policy priority, making the organization’s push for healthcare for all their next campaign.
“Prenatal care is a critical place to start but we won’t stop until all Marylanders have healthcare from cradle to grave,” said Ms. Paul.
With over 122,000 lifetime Latino, immigrant, and working-class members across 46 US states, CASA is the foremost immigrant organization in the mid-Atlantic region and a national leader in supporting immigrant families and ensuring that all individuals have the core support necessary for full participation in society. Now a national immigrant powerhouse, CASA creates change with its powerbuilding model blending human services, community organizing, and advocacy in order to serve the full spectrum of the needs, dreams, and aspirations of members. Visit us at www.wearecasa.org and follow us on Twitter at @CASAforall.