- 2012elections - 9/11 Special Coverage - aca - africanamericanalzheimers - aids - Alabama News Network - american - Awards & Expo - bees - bilingual - border - californiaeducation - Caribbean - cir - citizenship - climatechange - collgeinmiami - community - democrats - ecotourism - Elders - Election 2012 - elections2012 - escuelas - Ethnic Media in the News - Ethnicities - Events - Eye on Egypt - Fellowships - food - Foreclosures - Growing Up Poor in the Bay Area - Health Care Reform - healthyhungerfreekids - howtodie - humiliating - immigrants - Inside the Shadow Economy - kimjongun - Latin America - Law & Justice - Living - Media - memphismediaroundtable - Multimedia - NAM en Espaol - Politics & Governance - Religion - Richmond Pulse - Science & Technology - Sports - The Movement to Expand Health Care Access - Video - Voter Suppression - War & Conflict - 攔截盤查政策 - Top Stories - Immigration - Health - Economy - Education - Environment - Ethnic Media Headlines - International Affairs - NAM en Español - Occupy Protests - Youth Culture - Collaborative Reporting

What Health Care Reform Means for Latinos

La Opinin, News Report, Pilar Marrero, Translated By Suzanne Manneh Posted: Aug 22, 2009

Health care reform plans dont include any kind of public coverage for undocumented immigrants. President Barack Obama has even said that including the undocumented would create "a lot of resistance."

But this hasnt stopped opponents, including anti-immigrant lobbyist groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), from denouncing supposed "loop holes" in the proposals that they say would benefit the undocumented.

"Many Americans have used town hall meetings to express their opposition to illegal aliens covered under the proposed health reform," FAIR announced in a statement.

A few days ago in New Hampshire, a group of opponents of health care reform in one of the famous "town halls" expressed the sentiment more openly: "We do not need illegal immigrants. Deport them to their countries, and the second time theyll get shot in the head."

But its not only undocumented immigrants who would be excluded.

Activists are struggling to expand coverage for another particularly vulnerable group that does not qualify for public assistance: legal immigrants in their first five years of residence in the United States.

"Under the proposals, they are still excluded from public programs like Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) in the first years of their residency," said Jennifer Ng'andu of the National Council of La Raza, a pro-immigrant organization in Washington, D.C. In addition, they will be required to buy insurance like everyone else, but its not as easy to get coverage if they are poor."

The proposals stipulate that legal residents in their first five years be excluded from other public programs if they have access to purchase subsidized insurance in the so-called "insurance exchange," a private insurance pool market that is competing for the business of individual policyholders.

The idea is that the competition will lower insurance premium prices.

Part of the problem with inconsistencies in Latino health care coverage, activists say, is that the Latino leadership has failed to show courage in defense of their community.

Dr. Jane Delgado, president of Alliance for Hispanic Health Care, said that groups like hers have been part of the discussion since the first day.

But Ng'andu said that she is "worried that our national leadership is silent on these issues. In both parties, she said, Latinos have not had a loud voice."

Rosalo Muoz, a Los Angeles activist and founder of Latinos for Health Reform, explains that Latinos in Congress have been active, but she says more must be done to strengthen Latinos voices in the debate.

"The Latino caucus was involved with the black and Asian caucuses to present the necessary reforms to their communities. Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona has been a leader on this," Muoz said. "What we have not had until now, and this is a mistake, is a bilingual town hall or public meeting in Latino communities."

According to figures from the Pew Hispanic Center, 59 percent of undocumented immigrants, 29 percent of Latino documented residents, and 14 percent of Latino U.S. citizens are uninsured.

"Clearly you're not going to deport 12 million undocumented immigrants. The only alternative policy is not to cover them, but how is that sustainable if the idea is to cover everyone to reduce public health risks and insurance costs?" asks Jos Caldern, a sociologist at Pitzer College.

This is a preview, he said, of what will happen when Congress debates comprehensive immigration reform.

Some people are using the immigration issue to counter opposition to (health care) reform, like they are using other scare tactics, Caldern said. "This is part of the immigration debate and it gives us a taste of what we can expect with immigration reform."

Some believe that it will be disastrous for health care reform to leave the undocumented or a sector of the larger immigrant community uninsured.

Delgado says that so far there has been no attempt to cover undocumented immigrants, but according to the PEW study, many of them are covered in one way or another, whether by local clinics or paying out-of-pocket. Others are covered by employers.

Delgado estimates that the population of undocumented immigrants without health insurance is between 7 and 8 million people.

The Latino population is one of the hardest hit by the crisis in the health sector: one in three Latinos is uninsured. The White House is attempting to inform Latinos about their alternatives and the myths and realities of reform, said White House spokesperson Luis Miranda.

The White House has also launched a Spanish-language Web sitewhere people can ask questions and view videos.

Related Articles:

Rules for (Dealing with) Radicals

The Other Town Halls: Labor Unions Sell Members on Immigration Reform

Page 1 of 1




Just Posted

NAM Coverage