Group discusses health care for undocumented immigrants

Community members concerned with health care for undocumented immigrants met Saturday to discuss the future of health care in California.

Leaders from the Building Communities Coalition gathered in Sacramento in advance of a workshop which will be held by the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors next week.

In 2009, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors implemented a policy barring undocumented immigrants from accessing county health care services.

As a result leaders with Sacramento Covered say undocumented immigrants have faced health care hardships and cannot maintain their health or treat their diseases at affordable costs.

"Illnesses don't discriminate, so I just see it as a human right," said Griselda Zamora, project manager with Sacramento Covered. "Many times, we see households with mixed immigration status, where the children may be born here and they're U.S. citizens and they get benefits, and then the parents are left out."

Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna said undocumented immigrants are unfairly stereotyped.

"I think there is a general misconception that they don't contribute, especially fiscally, and that's not true," he said.

Antonio Campos, a father of three, is an undocumented immigrant and spoke at the meeting Saturday.

"I've been here for 20 years now, and I pay my taxes and I have a house, and I'm doing everything that every citizen does," Campos said.

Campos said his daughter needed medical care to fix an eye retina problem, but because he didn't have health coverage, his only option was going to the emergency room. He said his medical costs were more than $2,000, which would have been drastically lower if he could have gone to a doctor's office using health insurance. He is hoping the policy banning medical coverage for undocumented immigrants will change.

On Wednesday, March 18, the Sacramento County board of Supervisors will meet to discuss this issue further.

The meeting is open to the public and will be held at the Sacramento County Hearing Room on 700 H Street from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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