As immigration reform picks up momentum on Capitol Hill this week, health advocates are calling on Congress to consider public health consequences of certain provisions included in the sweeping legislation.

The American Public Health Association is urging the U.S. Senate to reject various amendments that would create an impasse for those on the path to citizenship to receive health benefits. In a letter (PDF) to all senators sent Tuesday, APHA wrote to oppose an additional five-year waiting period for those who have “Registered Provisional Immigrant” or blue card status to receive Affordable Care Act subsidies. The Association also expressed its opposition to a five-year bar for lawfully present pregnant women and children from accessing Medicaid and child health programs.

“Denying the opportunity to access these important programs further hampers an individual’s and a family’s pursuit of health, wrote Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of APHA. “Cutting benefits is shortsighted and any short-term savings will be far outweighed by the long-term costs to the nation’s health.”

“Parents may also forgo vaccinating their children, reducing community immunity to preventable diseases,” wrote Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, legal director at the Center for HIV Law and Policy, in a recent Huffington Post column. “Untreated diseases, with the attendant increased disease viral loads in marginalized immigrant communities, all have a cascading impact on individual health risks and the public’s health.”

APHA’s letter goes on to support a measure that would restore taxpayer fairness to legal,employed immigrants as well as an amendment that would continue to consider health care facilities as “sensitive locations” and limit federal immigration enforcement action there.

The bill could clear the Senate floor before the July Fourth recess.