Center for American Progress

RELEASE: On World Refugee Day, Issue Brief Examines How GOP-Led Health Care Attacks Could Harm Refugees in Need of Reproductive Health Care
Press Release

RELEASE: On World Refugee Day, Issue Brief Examines How GOP-Led Health Care Attacks Could Harm Refugees in Need of Reproductive Health Care

Washington, D.C. — Today, as advocates observe World Refugee Day, and as Republicans in the Senate continue to work in secret on their plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Center for American Progress has published a new issue brief examining what’s at stake for U.S.-based refugees in the health care debate.

Upon entering the country, refugees can face barriers to accessing health care, including limited access to employer-sponsored health insurance coverage and limited resources or language capability to acquire quality health care services. Additional barriers to accessing reproductive health care in particular—social stigma, restrictive state and local legislation, as well as other hurdles—are compounded by refugees’ limited access to health care in general.

“Trump and congressional Republicans will stop at nothing to derail access to affordable health care for the most vulnerable among us,” said Jamila Taylor, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and co-author of the issue brief. “Not only are refugees grappling with policy changes aimed at affecting their ability to settle free from stigma, they are also at risk for losing access to vital health services along with millions of other people in this country.”

While refugees often enter the United States as low income, there has been significant research showing that refugees integrate well over time by entering the labor force, moving up the occupational ladder, and starting businesses after resettlement. A recent study has also shown that refugees pay more taxes than they use in government-sponsored benefits over time.

Refugees in the United States have several options for accessing health care coverage, including Medicaid, the Refugee Medical Assistance Program, the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace, and providers such as Planned Parenthood and community health clinics. However, thanks to the current administration’s and Congress’s attacks on the Affordable Care Act and reproductive health care, access to quality, affordable reproductive health care for refugees in the United States is at risk.

The U.S. House of Representatives’ deeply unpopular American Health Care Act, which proposes cuts to Medicaid and defunding Planned Parenthood, would inevitably reduce access to reproductive health care for low-income populations, including refugees. The Senate version of the bill is reported to include similar dangerous provisions, making health insurance coverage less comprehensive and less affordable—if not completely out of reach—for the most vulnerable communities. Meanwhile, attacks against the Title X Family Planning Program also put at risk U.S.-based refugees’ access to care. In fact, Title X providers play an integral role for the refugee community by filling the gap in certain services that can be difficult to receive through Medicaid or the Refugee Medical Assistance Program.

On World Refugee Day, it’s critical that we examine the ways in which refugees can feasibly access the resources that they need to live healthy, sustainable lives. However, current threats to roll back reproductive health and rights, as well as efforts to restrict refugees from entering the country, will only serve to undermine refugee communities’ ability to do so.

Read the issue brief: Access to Reproductive Health Care for U.S.-Based Refugees” by Jamila Taylor and Anusha Ravi

For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Chelsea Kiene at or 202.478.5328.