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Will California’s undocumented children once again face a future without health care?

Will California’s undocumented children once again face a future without health care?

Picture of Harvey Barkin
Photo by Keoni Cabral via Flickr

Filipino caregivers are reputed to give outstanding care at care homes or residences around the world. But in Northern California, when some go home to their own children, the care they give is hardly outstanding. At San Francisco’s South of Market Health Center, nurse practitioner Cristina Sprague reveals that a typical home environment packs 20 people in a small apartment. She said the irony is that many of these undocumented children’s parents work 16-hour shifts as healthcare providers. They provide care for others but can’t afford it for their own children.

Such packed apartments are not the only health issue Filipino caregivers face. Back in their homeland, many Filipinos don’t put much stock in preventive medicine nor do they visit doctors for regular checkups. Many don’t find out they have cancer or some other chronic condition until they collapse from the pain or can’t ignore the symptoms, at which point they might be diagnosed as inoperable at the hospital. This mind-set often travels with Filipino immigrants to their new home.

Even self-made Filipinos who own their own businesses often subscribe to a mix of religion, holistic medicine and home cures. Some endorse and sell so-called “diet supplements” that promise curative powers. Some second-generation Filipinos who live with their parents share in these same beliefs as well.

Compounding this situation is the fact many undocumented Filipinos would rather stay under the radar rather than fight for their health care rights, as many do in the Latino undocumented community. Last year, legislation extended full-scope Medicaid benefits for low-income undocumented children, but the outreach campaign did not reach enough undocumented families. The future of such policies have been thrown into question when Trump won the November election.

Undocumented children are left behind when it comes to basic health care. What’s in store for such children now when a viable health care system is still not in place, despite Obamacare’s expansion of coverage?

[Photo by Keoni Cabral via Flickr.]


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