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Breaking down health care inequities in immigrant communities

KAAL-TV
Created: February 03, 2020 06:55 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Perhaps one of the more polarizing issues this election season is health care.

Monday night, industry leaders came to the Med City to talk about health care injustices in local immigrant communities.

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Dr. Seth Holmes is a cultural and medical anthropologist and physician studying healthcare inequities at the University of California Berkeley. 

"There are inequities based on things like racism and discrimination and there are inequities based on economic resources. What kinds of jobs people are likely to have,” said Dr. Holmes.

He spoke on Monday night’s panel, explaining that in rural areas many immigrants take jobs in agriculture and construction. 

"In many regions, immigrant communities have lower access to healthcare, lower access to things like workers compensation despite the fact that they have occupational injury rates from the work that they do roughly five times higher than the national average,” he said.

Dr. Holmes said language barriers and transportation issues only make it harder for immigrants to get care. 

Policy and research associate Miriam Magana Lopez said one possible solution could be a change in the overall insurance policy. 

"I'd love to see us moving to have healthcare for all where everyone regardless of documentation status can access healthcare insurance. 

That's something that's super important that we can access care when we need instead of having to wait until we get very sick,” she said. 

The forum was coincidentally scheduled on the same night as the Iowa caucus, where democratic voters will decide which candidate they will support in the 2020 elections and which healthcare plan they would like to see in the future. 

"I think it's really important that we as a broad and diverse society think of immigrant communities as residents as neighbors as part of our society as we are looking towards the election and thinking about what kind of society we want to be," said Dr. Holmes. 

The forum was hosted by Community Health Service Inc. and co-sponsored by Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery and the University of Minnesota Rochester. 
 


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