What are Merced health advocates doing to help undocumented receive health coverage?

Community groups in Merced County have been working with health and elected officials to find ways to provide health insurance for the thousands of Merced County residents who lack coverage.
Now, they’re reaching out to the community “to be part of the solution to expand health care access to the undocumented in Merced County,” said officials from Building Healthy Communities Merced, or BHC.
On Tuesday night, BHC will be holding a community gathering for those interested in learning what officials at the organization have been doing to make health insurance accessible to those who don’t have coverage because of immigration status.
In April, the Merced County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to hold a study session that would explore ideas on how to expand health insurance to undocumented residents.
Supporters of the study session are hoping to have a date set for the session, said Crissy Gallardo, a community organizer with the Merced Organizing Project.
Advocates hope the study session will lead county officials to allocate funds in the next budget cycle for a program that would bring health care access to all residents in the county, regardless of immigration status.
“I think it’s really good for our community to learn about health for all,” Gallardo said. “We want a healthy community and in our community, a large percentage of the undocumented remain uninsured.”
About 8 percent of Merced County residents overall lack insurance, according to 2016 figures from Enroll America.
BHC, a non-profit group, estimates there are 25,000 undocumented residents in Merced County, and more than half are “locked out” of health coverage.
“Community members will share their stories and connect with one another and get a better understanding of what study session is going to be,” Gallardo said.
The community gathering will be at Golden Valley Health Centers, 847 W. Childs Ave. in Merced from 5 to 8 p.m. The meeting will be at the Senior Center on the second floor. Food and child care will be available.