Community health centers, immigrants, and the power of our voices

Community health centers, immigrants, and the power of our voices

Friday, August 10, 2012

It's National Health Center Week, and it couldn't be at a better time -  this year, it coincides with the 3rd annual Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice. This Week of Action we are focusing on showing Latina power in service of health care access, and community health centers have been a site of access for Latinas across the nation for years.

As it stands right now, Latinas have the lowest health insurance rates of any other group ethnic group of women. While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) stands poised to radically change this number as many Latinas become eligible for tax credits to help purchase coverage or become newly eligible for Medicaid, we know that many Latinas will fall through the cracks.  Particularly, we are concerned about immigrant Latinas - because many legally-residing immigrants will be ineligible for Medicaid due to the 5-year bar and undocumented immigrants will not be eligible at all, community health centers will provide a crucial role for immigrant communities post-ACA. That's because community health centers provide free or low-cost care to low-income people, regardless of their documentation status, and are an essential site of access to care for immigrant communities. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act provides $11 billion over five years to improve and expand community health centers across the nation, with an emphasis on creating centers in medically underserved areas. This means that community health centers will become an increasingly important place for immigrants to access the important primary and preventive health care they need to keep themselves and their families healthy.

For these reasons, it is important for us to connect the National Health Center Week and the Week of Action. We must make sure that the ACA is fully implemented and funded so that we can make sure that those much-needed funds go to community health centers nationwide, and we must demand that our states expand Medicaid so that as many Latinas as possible  have coverage. And we're providing two easy ways for you to do so:

Now is the time to show our power. Let's work to make sure that we get the most out of the Affordable Care Act and immigrant communities aren't left behind in the dust. Let's use the power of our voice - take action!