HLA's Immigrant Health Care Access Initiative addresses the many substantial health care barriers facing low-income immigrants. Throughout Massachusetts the uninsurance rate among immigrants, is improving with the help of our work and others’, but remains much higher than for U.S. citizens and increasingly repressive immigration enforcement policies prevent immigrants from seeking care. HLA lawyers represent low-income immigrants improperly denied health insurance enrollment and coverage for specific services. We also provide expert consults for health care and social service providers trying to help vulnerable immigrants receive the care they need.

One of our recent clients was “Lilly” a 2-year-old girl adopted from Brazil by her Mom, a U.S. citizen. Lilly has a serious autoimmune disorder that can only be treated with a bone marrow transplant. But, due to temporary complications with the adoption paperwork, Lilly’s insurance coverage was terminated. HLA represented Lilly and restored her insurance coverage. She able to access the life-saving treatment she needed without her family going hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt.

HLA’s lawyers improve health care access for immigrants through community outreach and policy advocacy as well. We visit community-based organizations to hear about difficulties immigrants face obtaining health care and deliver presentations on immigrants’ rights in the health care system. HLA also established an Immigrant Health Care Access Coalition to coordinate policy advocacy and community organizing among organizations interested in health care for immigrants.

Watch "Liana's Story"

In the 1940s, Liana survived the siege of Leningrad. Years after her daughter, Marina, emigrated to America to pursue a PhD, Liana left Russia and joined her daughter outside Boston. When Liana's insurance didn't cover services she needed to recover after a very bad fall, HLA stepped in to advocate for her right to health care. 

This video premiered at HLA's 24th Benefit Breakfast in November 2019.


Liana's Story from Tira Khan, Sugarhouse Media on Vimeo.

Finch v. Connector Authority (2012)

The Initiative builds on HLA's historic class action lawsuit Finch v. Connector Authority which vindicated immigrants’ constitutional right to equal protection and secured health insurance for tens of thousands of low-income immigrants in Massachusetts. In the Finch case, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) unanimously deemed a state law barring 40,000 low-income immigrants from a state insurance program unconstitutional. In the first, and highly critical, phase of the Finch case the SJC ruled that the statute in question was subject to the highest level of judicial scrutiny because it discriminated against our clients.


The Immigrant Health Care Access Initiative is supported by the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, the Fish Family Foundation, the Shapiro Foundation, the Clowes Fund, the MetroWest Health Foundation, the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation.