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Effort underway to get health coverage for New York immigrants

Alejandro Brown receives a COVID-19 vaccine from a health care worker at a drive-through site in Miami on Dec. 16.
MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 16: Alejandro Brown receives a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from a healthcare worker at a drive-thru site at Tropical Park on December 16, 2021 in Miami, Florida. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava visited the vaccination site to encourage residents to take holiday gatherings outside this year, get tested for COVID and get vaccinated. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) -Immigrant advocates are rallying in support of a bill that would provide healthcare coverage to tens of thousands of New Yorkers.

The New York Immigration Coalition said across the state, more than 154,000 New Yorkers are uninsured. That’s why the coalition, and other groups, are lobbying for the passage of “Coverage For All.” The bill would create a state-funded health coverage option for eligible New Yorkers, regardless of their immigration status.

The coalition said many of the people who are uninsured work and pay taxes, despite not receiving health benefits. One of those people is Beatriz, an apple farm worker in Upstate New York.

Beatriz shared her story in Spanish during an online event organized by the New York Immigration Coalition. She said, after having surgery for a tumor in 2000, she has had to pay $1,000 every two years for treatment because she doesn’t have insurance.

“There are some times that I think of not going to the hospital,” Beatriz said. “But the pain is too much that I have to go.”

Marygrace Piskorowski, a nurse who has worked in rural farm communities, said she’s seen this struggle firsthand.

"It stops you in your tracks, completely, when a person who may not even speak English is able to communicate to you that they no longer want to receive treatment that day because they're afraid that they can't afford the services that you're providing them," said Piskorowski.

Piskorowski said that's why she's hoping the bill will get passed.

"When everyone in our community is healthy, our state will be healthy, and our nation will be healthy,” said Piskorowski. “Healthcare workers want to be able to provide care to all those who seek it."

So far, the Coverage for All bill has moved out of the health committees in the assembly and senate.