Contra Costa County, Calif., Cuts Certain Health Services for Undocumented Immigrants
The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved almost $50 million in cuts to county general fund spending, with more than 60% of the reductions affecting health care and social services, the Contra Costa Times reports. As a result of the cuts, the county will eliminate nonemergency services for undocumented adults, hoping to save about $6 million.
County Health Services Director William Walker said it was a difficult decision to eliminate health services to undocumented immigrants. "It's the hardest thing I've ever had to propose in my 34 years in the county, the reduction of access to patients," he said, adding, "Public protection includes more than just law enforcement and the criminal justice system."
Supervisor John Gioia said the issue is largely about public health but also moral responsibility to continue to provide some level of care to undocumented immigrants. "Everyone who lives in the county receives a better quality of life the more they have access to health care," he said.
Jim Bickert, president of the Contra Costa Deputy Sheriff's Association, said, "To continue to fund health care services for [undocumented immigrants] is absurd and fiscally irresponsible" (Gafni, Contra Costa Times, 3/17).