Wednesday, October 22, 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

    County to fund pilot project for West Sac homeless

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

     
    Pumpkin patch: a favorite tradition every autumn

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Marathon specialist Winter heads to cycling shrine

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Vandals damage two Woodland schools

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    Davis Arts Center: a call to artists for Holiday Sale Wall of Art

    By Erie Vitiello | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Author showcases field biology as he revels in nature

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Pedal around Davis on weekly bike ride

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Apply soon to be a Master Gardener

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Terez will perform at Wine’d Down Thursday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Super-fun 5K run will support UCD students

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Entries due Nov. 1 in VFW essay contests

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Teen services grant applications due this week

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

     
    Voice of the Wood plans family Halloween show

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Garamendi will speak at U.N. Day event

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Wine-tasting and auction benefit Advanced Treble Choir

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

     
    Composting workshop set at Grace Garden

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Setting a good example

    By Sue Cockrell | From Page: A5

     
    Kids form a lifelong habit of drinking water

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Farmers Market hosts Fall Festival

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    A Taste of India dinner benefits Davis Community Meals

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Wolk sets ‘Morning with the Mayor’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Volunteers sought to chip in on parks cleanup

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Women and men want the same things in cars … usually

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

     
    California state parks show off fall color

    By Kimberly Yarris | From Page: A7

    October is fall car care month

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    Railroad work will close Eighth Street

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

    Special education information night scheduled

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A9

     
    Halloween Carnival planned Oct. 26

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    Mondavi Center gift shop plans holiday sale

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    Soda bottlers spend big to fight S.F. ban

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A9

    Clinton sounding like a candidate in S.F. appearance

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A12

     
    .

    Forum

    Bad business over the phone

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Life vests are a must when rafting

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

     
    Slower travel on new stretch

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

    Vote no on Prop. 1, because it’s no solution

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Support choruses in schools

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

    David Fitzsimmons cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A8

     
    Archer’s the go-to person

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

    Adams has what we need

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Sports

    Devils are on track for volleyball playoffs after win

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Giants rip Royals in Game 1

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    UCD women’s soccer postseason hopes flickering

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    A typical Blue Devil girls water polo win

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    DHS boys hold off Rio Americano in the pool

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    AYSO roundup: Local winners have the Eye of the Tiger

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Alliance/Legacy roundup: Italia cruises past Chico

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: Fipps earns another preseason hoops award

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8

    .

    Features

    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Clement ‘George’ Hebert

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Mariana Brumbaugh Henwood

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics