CHICAGO — Healthcare experts and public officials with community leaders rallied in downtown Chicago today to demand that the state restore cuts made in healthcare coverage for undocumented immigrants and work with community stakeholders towards coverage for all. A video replay of rally can be viewed on Facebook.

The cuts made to the state’s Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults/Seniors (HBIA/S) program in June, paused enrollment for adults ages 42-64, and capped enrollment for those 65 and over. It also authorized a host of other changes, including increased co-pays and reduced hospital reimbursements, jeopardizing healthcare access for thousands of undocumented immigrants.

“Every Illinoisan deserves access to affordable, high-quality health care regardless of factors like their immigration status,” said Tovia Siegel, director of the Healthy Illinois Campaign, the statewide coalition that is organizing the rally. “We are ready to work collaboratively with the state to restore and protect health care for all, including immigrants who rely on these crucial programs. We are in this together, and together we must work toward fiscally responsible solutions that restore and protect health coverage for Illinoisans.”

Rally speakers included State Senator Javier Cervantes, State Senator Mike Simmons, State Representative Theresa Mah, and Cook County Commissioner Anthony Quezada, as well as beneficiaries of the HBIA and HBIS programs. 

“This program has changed my life because thanks to this health coverage I can attend my appointments regularly,” said HBIA participant Vicente Hernandez. “That is why I ask our leaders to reopen this benefit for immigrants and low-income people who cannot buy health insurance. This benefit has changed my life and everyone deserves access to medical care, regardless of their age or immigration status.”

In 2020, Illinois became the first state to offer healthcare coverage to all low-income seniors, regardless of immigration status and later expanded the program to include adults ages 42-64. The new rules went into effect July 1 and required enrollees to pay a $250 copay for inpatient hospital stays, $100 for emergency room visits, and 10 percent of the Medicaid reimbursement rate for outpatient surgery.

But on September 5, the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services told providers to stop charging co-pays and refund any money they had collected because the federal government already offers reimbursements for emergency room services, even for undocumented immigrants.

“If it wasn’t for these programs, it would have been very difficult to pay for the treatment and maybe my cancer would have gotten worse,” said HBIA participant Concepcion Cortez. “No one should have to worry about dying because it is too expensive to get the medical care they need to stay alive. We need to restore coverage and expand it until everyone has access to healthcare.”

Elected officials in attendance included:

The Healthy Illinois Campaign is a statewide coalition that has a diverse cross-section of immigrant and healthcare advocates including community members, providers, organizers and policy experts. We are united by a common goal of making quality, affordable healthcare coverage accessible to all people in Illinois, regardless of immigration status. For more information please go to

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