Friday, September 19, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Young immigrants shut out of health care reform

Jirayut "New" Latthivongskorn, center, is joined by Nalleli Sandoval, left, and Angel Ku at a forum at UC Berkeley's Multicultural Community Center. Latthivongskorn is a Dreamer who is blocked from participating in the Affordable Care Act. Jessica Olthof/San Francisco Chronicle photo

By
From page A1 | February 22, 2013 |

By Drew Joseph

California’s young immigrants who have been granted reprieves to stay in the country stand to gain little from the federal health reform law that the state Legislature is working to implement.

The Affordable Care Act excludes illegal immigrants from accessing the law’s benefits, but some immigrant and health advocates are angry that the young people known as Dreamers have been left out, saying the policy contradicts the law’s intent of expanding coverage to more people.

“It really defeats what the goals of the ACA were to begin with,” said Sonal Ambegaokar, health policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which was announced in June, allows people who were brought into the United States when they were young to stay for two years if they pursue education or military service. The young people eligible for the program are known as Dreamers, in reference to the proposed Dream Act — legislation that would give them a path to citizenship.

More than a quarter of the 1.76 million people who are or will be eligible to apply for DACA — about 460,000 immigrants — live in California, according to an August 2012 Migration Policy Institute report.

After the DACA program was announced, the Obama administration clarified the policy, specifying that people to whom DACA applies will not qualify for Medicaid now or as the health law is implemented. And while many Americans will receive subsidies to buy insurance through their state’s exchanges — the insurance marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act — people granted DACA approval will not be able to purchase coverage through those exchanges even with their own money.

Rule questioned

Critics say the rule does not make sense. They argue that people approved for the program are lawfully present in the country, but when it comes to health care, they are treated as undocumented immigrants and will face a harder time finding coverage.

“It’s really unfortunate,” said Ronald Coleman, the California Immigrant Policy Center’s government affairs manager. “These are individuals that are going to be paying taxes; they are getting work permits.”

Providing DACA grantees with Medicaid coverage — known as Medi-Cal in California — or giving them subsidies to buy insurance would increase costs for the state and federal governments, especially as the state expands Medi-Cal coverage. Some conservatives also attack attempts to offer immigrants access to the benefits of health reform — a law they disdain in the first place.

People approved for DACA can still buy private insurance and can acquire health coverage through their employers. And while federal law requires that emergency services be offered to all, states and counties can provide additional benefits for people with different immigration statuses.

California, for example, covers limited breast and cervical cancer treatments and prenatal care for undocumented immigrants, according to the state Department of Health Care Services. And San Francisco provides Healthy San Francisco benefits regardless of immigration status.

Dreamer wonders why

But the Obama administration’s policies have upset people like Jirayut “New” Latthivongskorn, a 23-year-old UC Berkeley graduate whose DACA application was approved in January. Latthivongskorn, who was born in Thailand and moved to the Bay Area when he was 9, helped start the group Pre-Health Dreamers as a resource for those pursuing health and science careers or looking for medical care.

Latthivongskorn, who lives in Fremont, said Dreamers were frustrated that they are allowed to stay in the country but will not have access to the exchanges, which are designed to provide affordable coverage for individuals. Advocates point out that many of the undocumented people who would otherwise be eligible to participate in the exchanges are the type of young, healthy patients who help reduce costs for everyone.

“My reaction is: I don’t get it,” said Latthivongskorn, who hopes to go to medical school.

Support for change

In December, 81 members of Congress wrote to President Obama expressing their concerns about the policy, including Democratic Bay Area Reps. Barbara Lee, Zoe Lofgren, Mike Honda, Anna Eshoo and Mike Thompson, and former Reps. Lynn Woolsey and Pete Stark.

“With up to 1.7 million immigrants potentially benefiting from deferred action under DACA, there are significant costs to leaving immigrants uninsured if they are unable to afford health care on their own, particularly if they turn to hospital emergency rooms and public safety net hospitals for care,” they wrote in the letter.

But the federal government does not appear inclined to expand the law. Recent immigration reform proposals from both the Obama administration and a bipartisan group of senators excluded those granted a pathway to citizenship from the health law’s benefits.

— Reach Drew Joseph at djoseph@sfchronicle.com

Comments

comments

San Francisco Chronicle

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Grant means new push for moving tracks out of town

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Some say council needs to reconsider MRAP

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

    UC to create $250 million venture capital fund

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A1

     
    School district may redevelop downtown site

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1

     
    Master Gardeners share their wisdom at free workshops

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Scots vote to stay in UK

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    France strikes Islamic State group’s depot in Iraq

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Man faces arson charge in huge California wildfire

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    DUI suspected in crash

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    Woodland Healthcare offering flu shots

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Putah Creek Bike Path to close temporarily

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Little Free Libraries open at Montgomery

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

    Project Linus seeks donations

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Rabid bat found at Holmes Junior High

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Students invited to apply for Blue & White grants

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Halloween costume sale benefits preschool

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Telling tales, on ‘Davisville’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Volunteers sought to make veggie bags

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Storyteller will draw on music, dance

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Free workout class set at library

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Explorit: Lots of ways to be a volunteer

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Sierra Club remembers longtime walker

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    DHS Classes of 1954 and 1955 will hold 60th reunion

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Nonprofits can get DCN’s help

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Register to vote by Oct. 20

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Davis maps available at Chamber office

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Reception benefits endangered gorillas

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Downtown history tour planned in October

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Davis hosts its own climate change rally

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Sutter Farmers Market offers local goods

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Wolk applauds approval of stronger rules for olive oil

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Qigong classes available for heart health

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    .

    Forum

    Sick of being the bad guy

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    Return to previous plan

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Save the ‘pine cone place’

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Affirm our community values

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Project has safety risks

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Learn more about Paso Fino

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Educate homeless with dogs

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

    Cheers and Jeers: Not the end of the rainbow

    By Our View | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Sports

    Aggies’ new energy could be scary for Big West

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    No rest for the weary: Aggie TE Martindale busy on and off the field

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devils hope the light bulb turns on at Edison

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    River Cats and Giants sign two-year deal

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Blue Devil volleyballers hold off Herd

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Take Zona and Bama this week

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: B2

    Mustangs are no match for DHS boys in water polo

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

     
    A’s slide continues as Rangers sweep

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    .

    Features

    Name Droppers: Awards keep coming for UC Davis retiree

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Business

    Redesigned 2015 Escalade remains breed all its own

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Carol L. Walsh

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, September 19, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: A10

     
    .

    Real Estate Review

    Featured Listing

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER1

    Professional Services Directory

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER2

    Taylor Morrison

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER3

    Malek Baroody

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

    Norcal Land

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER5

    Robin Garland

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

    Karen Waggoner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

    Dana Hawkins

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

    Martha Bernauer

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Joe Kaplan

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Lynne Wegner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Remax

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

    Melrina A Maggiora

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER10

    Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

    Julie Leonard

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

    Coldwell Banker

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

    Kim Eichorn

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

    Lyon Real Estate

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

    Marcelo Campos

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Julie Partain

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Jamie Madison & Associates

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Kim Merrel Lamb

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Bob Bockwinkel

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Juan Ramirez

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Chris Snow

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

    James Hanna

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

    Raul Zamora

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

    Susan von Geldern

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

    Travis Credit Union

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER20

    Jamie Madison

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

    Karen Waggoner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

    Tracy Harris

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER22

    Lisa Haass

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER22

    First Street Real Estate

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER24