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Immigration Reform & Public Health

Immigration Reform & Public Health

Picture of Shuka Kalantari

Comprehensive immigration reform hasn't happened since 1986, when the Immigration Reform & Control Act (IRCA) was passed. Now immigration reform is in the air once again - with President Obama saying the issue will be tackled next year. What is it like for undocumented and seasonal workers to get health care under the current system? Will immigration reform change things? KQED Public Radio's Health Dialogues explores these topics on this month's broadcast.

Health Dialogues host Scott Shafer begins the program with an overview on the latest news on where immigration reform legislation is going. He speaks with the Washington bureau chief of the Orange County Register, Dena Bunic, about upcoming legislation in Washington relating to immigration reform.

We then hit the road and visit Napa's Clinic Ole, a community clinic serving the valley's large farming population. The site provides an early H1N1 flu vaccination that is available to people without health insurance.

Certain health care needs, like the H1N1 vaccine, can be attained without health insurance – even for undocumented immigrant. But many recent immigrants are unaware of this right. Health Dialogues presents a first-person account from a woman who hesitated to seek health care because of her immigration status. Due to the personal nature of her story, the subject asked that we protect her identity.

Is it feasible to provide health care to everyone? Scott Shafer sits down with David Hayes-Bautista, professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA snd Gail Wilensky, a senior fellow at Project HOPE, an international health education foundation, to talk about the practical and perceived hurdles in providing health care to everyone, including undocumented immigrants.

Health Dialogues digs deeper into the issue of providing health care for California's farm workers during an interview with Joel Diringer, health policy expert and author of a new report, "Health Care For California's Farm Workers".

For our final Health Dialogues segment on immigration reform & public health, we take a trip to the Mexican Consulate in Fresno, where a health outreach program run by the Mexican government, called Ventanillas de Salud, serves Spanish-speaking immigrants in this country.

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