Mexico Health Official Discusses Migrant Worker Health Care During Visit to Bay Area
Mexico Secretary of Health Jose Angel Cordova Villalobos during a visit to San Francisco on Monday said he plans to collaborate further with California officials to meet the health care needs of the millions of Mexican immigrants working in the state who lack health insurance, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. In 2006, about 10% of the $7 billion in uncompensated care provided by California hospitals went to undocumented immigrants, according to Jan Emerson, a spokesperson for the California Hospital Association. The federal government reimburses the state for a portion of that amount. Researchers from the University of California found that Mexicans generally are healthy when they arrive in the U.S., but their health deteriorates over time "in large part" because of lack of access to care. They added that workers previously would travel back to Mexico to receive care, but increased border security in recent years has reduced the practice. Villalobos, who during his visit met with Bay area organizations that provide health care services to Mexican immigrants, said every six months he will meet with U.S. health officials and Mexican immigrant communities to work toward creating a basic health care plan for migrant workers in the U.S. Eventually, the workers would receive coverage under a universal health care plan that currently is being developed by Mexican President Felipe Calderon's administration, he said. "We can build a new model for attention to the health needs of Mexican workers here," Villalobos said, adding, "The responsibility is shared. They're here, but they're ours. Right now, the care is insufficient." Mario Gutierrez, director of rural health programs at the California Endowment, said Villalobos' visit likely means that the Calderon administration intends to share the health care costs of Mexican immigrants in the U.S. (Hendricks, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.