Low-income undocumented residents gain access to healthcare coverage (Vida en el valle)


Low-income undocumented residents in Sacramento County can now enroll in the county’s new Healthy Partners Program to obtain healthcare coverage.

Healthy Partners Program is Sacramento County’s new health coverage program for undocumented residents. The program was created through the advocacy of a coalition of community organizations in Building Healthy Communities collaborative, and championed by Supervisor Phil Serna to restore healthcare access to undocumented residents in the county.

“It took a lot of community advocacy to win this program,” said Annie Fox, community organizer with Sacramento Area Congregations Together, and a network of 56 congregations that focus on community organizing on advocacy issues.

Fox said it took approximately two years of community organizing to restore some type of healthcare access to the undocumented in the county.

The program started health enrollment for undocumented residents living in Sacramento County earlier this year and will provide 3,000 undocumented residents with access to healthcare including specialty care, prescriptions, and other basic services.

Fox said approximately 1,000 people have been enrolled in the Healthy Partners program since it began taking patients.

“This is huge, you can’t have healthy kids unless you have healthy adults,” Fox said of the importance of having this program in the county.

According to Kim Williams, Sacramento’s Building Healthy Community’s Hub manager, approximately 80,000 undocumented residents live in the greater Sacramento region.

“Too many Sacramentans lack access to doctors, medicine and basic medical care,” Williams said in an statement about the need of healthcare access in the county. “Healthy Partners is an important step towards bringing health care to all of Sacramento.”

In 2009, due to fiscal restrains in the county budget, the Sacramento County of Board of Supervisors voted to add an additional eligibility requirement — to prove citizenship or lawful status in the United States — to the County’s Medically Indigent Services Program (CMISP). Those unable to prove their citizenship or lawful status were ineligible for CMISP and unable to obtain health care from the Primary Care Center. Approximately 4,000 Sacramento low-income residents, many of whom were undocumented and ineligible for any other form of government relief were no longer eligible for the CMISP.

To qualify for the new program, residents must be: 19 to 64 years of age; Sacramento County residents; meet certain income requirements (income at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level); have certain restricted scope Medi-Cal coverage or try applying for it; and, people that do not have health insurance and do not qualify for other healthcare programs.

The Health Partners program covers ongoing primary care and health screening, health information and advice; laboratory services and test; and prescriptions, however, enrollees must pay for most medications which can be available at low-cost retail stores.

To apply for the program, residents can call the county directly at (916) 874-1805 Monday through Friday.

However, because the application can be complicated, Fox encourages residents to call an enrollment agency like Sacramento Covered at (916) 414-8333 that can help guide them through the process in the language they need. Navigators at Sacramento Covered have been trained in the new program and can provide help in English, Spanish, Hmong, and Russian.

“This program is going to be a huge opportunity to make sure our families stay healthy and our workforce stays healthy,” Fox said.

Fox said that by having an unanimous vote from the board of supervisors to approve this program it’s a statement that “this is a community that cares about serving the undocumented community and recognizes them as essential part of our community and our economy.”

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