While the country faces a recession, the effects are starting to trickle down the line— people are already feeling the effects of the economic situation, in their employment opportunities and in health care.
Although being uninsured is difficult for anyone, for the 11.9 million undocumented immigrants without health insurance in the U.S., this is already their reality. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, undocumented immigrants make up 15% of the 47 million U.S. residents without health insurance.
What makes matters worse is that with a looming recession, many communities are starting to cut non-emergency health services to undocumented immigrants, with more clinics likely to follow. In Sacramento County, these cuts resulted in the county closing three out of 6 clinics. The tradeoff was either lay off the workers at these clinics, or stop covering undocumented immigrants. In this case, 4,000 undocumented immigrants were left without care.
Graciela Barrios, a diabetic and undocumented immigrant living in Sacramento, is starting to feel the effects of these cuts. “I have no insurance, no resources, nothing to fall back on. I have no idea what I will do.”
While the recession is being used as the reasoning behind these cuts, policy makers need to look at the broader issue. By cutting primary care to people, this can lead to higher health risks down the road. As said by Sonal Ambegaokar, a health policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center:
Cutting care, you save $100 today, but you may end up spending $500 tomorrow when that person shows up in the emergency room because you didn’t provide them with basic medication. It’s shortsighted.
For the sake of hard working people living in America, communities need to try and find a better solution to fixing their budgets. While these cuts may temporarily patch things up, it is being done at the expense of people who will likely suffer due to a lack of access to affordable care.
Contributed by Angela Donadic, Policy and Advocacy Fellow