Health care reform raises concerns for undocumented

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Jun 08 2013 11:28 AM | Updated as of Jun 08 2013 07:28 PM

LOS ANGELES -- While immigration reform is being discussed in Washington DC, President Barack Obama’s Healthcare reform continues to be implemented. With both programs coinciding with each other, health and immigration experts and advocates have concerns especially when it comes to caring for minorities.

Immigrant and health care advocates believe with ongoing state budget cuts, as many as 4 million immigrants whether they are in the US legally or not, will not have access to health care, despite Obamacare’s goal to insure the uninsured.

“Certainly, the undocumented do not benefit from the provisions of the affordable care act but neither permanent legal residents who are under the 5 year bar,” explained Health Access program director Nancy Gomez.

Another concern brought on by California’s on-going budget problems is the possible elimination of community care clinics run by counties as the State’s Medi-Cal program becomes the main health provider under the healthcare overhaul.

“The governor feels that the counties no longer require the funding to run the low income health programs so he wants to take back 1.4 billion dollars that the counties currently receive to provide care for the uninsured,” added Gomez.

Advocates said the current proposals would make physical and mental health access even more difficult for the ones who need it the most, the undocumented.

For college student Seth Ronquillo, who is applying for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, he says while students may be able to get health services through their schools, health is an issue for undocumented families.

“We might have healthcare but what about our parents, our siblings, what about our grandparents? One student actually shared her story that her aunt died 5 years ago because they’re undocumented and didn’t have access to healthcare,” he explained.

While Ronquillo is excited that immigration reform can benefit him, and his families, his current regimen of not getting sick will continue, as the potential beneficiaries of any form of amnesty will still not get access to government health care coverage under the current proposals.