LULAC, the League of the United Latin American Citizens, held its 20th annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 15-16. It was attended by hundreds of LULAC collegiate students, youths and adults who met with Congressional policy-makers on issues of importance to the Latino community and other minorities across the nation.
Topics included education, immigration, health, climate change, pension reform, voting rights, payday loan concerns, the Equality Act, LGBT, homelessness, bullying and the Safe School Improvement Act and Puerto Rico's status. Details of LULAC advocacy can be found online at www.LULAC.org.
My personal involvement was two-fold: "Green Card Veterans" and health issues that confront our communities.
Thousands of U.S. veterans referred to as "Green Card Veterans" were recruited into the United States military as legal, permanent residents with the promise that they would be granted U.S. citizenship after completing their military service. These veterans served their country honorably and upon returning home they faced challenges in obtaining citizenship and suffered PTSD, depression and deportation. LULAC urges Congress to address this issue
1. LULAC opposes efforts to repeal or chip away at the Affordable Care Act ithout a plan to prevent millions from losing Insurance coverage. This would cause 22 million to lose their health coverage including more than 4.2 million Latinos.
2. LULAC opposes efforts to de-fund comprehensive health services for women. De-funding Planned Parenthood threatens the health care provided to 2.5 million women, of which 575,000 are Latino women who would be deprived of basic health services.
3. LULAC supports increased funding for HIV/AIDS support, research and care programs. In 2013, 11,000 Latinos were diagnosed with HIV.
4. LULAC supports access to health care for immigrants through legislation such as HR 1974 HEAL (for the Immigrant Women and Families Act of 2015), which restores access to health coverage for immigrants authorized to live and work in the U.S.
5. LULAC urges Congress to support strong regulation that aims to cut pollution from power plants which cause asthma in high proportions in the Latino children (40 percent) of those living in a 10-mile vicinity of power plants.
6. LULAC supports integration of mental health into public health systems supporting the creation of family caregiver supportive services as a benefit under Medicare. This would improve health outcomes and limit health care costs.
7. LULAC opposes limiting consumer choice for contact lenses and opposes legislation such as H.R. 6157, the Contact Lens Health Protection Act of 2016 that would limit the ability of consumers to conveniently access affordable lenses.
I, as chair of the LULAC National Health Committee along with Maria Elena Cruz Ph.D. (vice president of the California State LULAC), Rohit Sharma (parliamentarian for California state LULAC), Andres Rodriguez (collegiate representative for state of California LULAC ) and other LULAC members met with members of Congress to present the above initiatives.
Our own Congressman, Jimmy Panetta, who deeply cares for his constituents and especially the veterans, was keenly interested in the initiatives and issues we presented for his consideration. Representatives Julia Brownley and Lou Correa were also most receptive to the LULAC initiatives. Each member assured us of their unquestionable support and appreciation. Congressman Darrel Issa's legislative director chose to meet us in the corridor of the Rayburn House and was totally un-prepared for the meeting.
Details can be found on www.LULAC.org/health.
N.Parveen Sharma M.D.
Chair, LULAC National Health Committee
V.P. LULAC Council #2890