After County Votes Down Healthcare Program Community Is Still Hopeful

Health4All Merced

A proposed health care program in Merced County would allow all residents to access healthcare services, regardless of immigration status

Merced, CA – On a three to two vote, Merced County Supervisors voted down the development of a county healthcare program for everyone in Merced County, regardless of immigration status (including the undocumented population).  This vote comes after two years of community meetings and hearings to develop a path to create a healthcare program accessible to all Merced County residents.
The program would have allowed any Merced County resident to access ancillary healthcare services, regardless of immigration status.  The number of remaining uninsured individuals under the age of 65 in Merced County is estimated to be 27,000.  Currently, undocumented adults cannot access any healthcare services through the County.  
Insurance coverage expansions have been associated with multiple benefits for individuals, communities, and the state. And uninsured families are more likely to suffer from poor health and financial hardships. The healthcare program would give the remaining uninsured access to important services such as x-rays, lab testing, and medical equipment such as wheelchairs.  47 Counties in California already offer healthcare options for everyone regardless of immigration status.  With no solutions coming anytime soon from Federal or State leadership, it is up to Merced County take care of its own residents and the community remains hopeful.     
“The community is greatly disheartened by the County Board decision not to move forward with a healthcare program for all Merced residents.  The program sought to increase healthcare access to thousands of community members and ultimately save lives,” Floripes Dzib, Merced County Resident.
“In Merced County, we take care of one another and while a healthcare program was not approved this time – we will be back.  Our commitment is to our community and we will find a path forward to meeting the needs of all Merced residents, regardless of immigration status. We will not stop,” Lupe Delgado, Prevention Action Team Coalition Member.
“I will continue to be a champion for my constituents and for Merced County.   I have heard the outcry from community residents loud and clear and will partner with our local advocates and community members to find a way to bring healthcare to all Merced County residents,” Supervisor Rodrigo Espinoza, District 1.
Community residents and local advocates remain committed to identifying a solution after Tuesday’s vote.
This is a statement from The Building Healthy Communities, Prevention Action Team.
BHC Prevention Action Team: is a coalition of non-profits and community-based organizations dedicated to increasing healthcare access to vulnerable and underserved communities in Merced County. We consist of healthcare navigation organizations, health education organizations, and healthcare advocacy organizations, many of which work directly with the undocumented and uninsured populations in Merced County. Through these collective services, the PAT recognizes the need for policy solutions from local government that eliminate barriers for uninsured Merced County residents to access healthcare services, particularly primary care. Our goal is simple: “A local solution towards expanded health care eligibility for all in Merced County regardless of immigration status.”
Merced Building Healthy Communities: Merced Building Healthy Communities is a coalition of residents, community-, and faith-based leaders working together to help all “Merced Communities Rise”. Our work aims at transforming southwest and east Merced County by working to ensure every policy decision takes into account the health and well-being of all Mercedians. For more information, visit BHCMerced.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.