Sánchez: Covering Colorado is also covering immigrants

alex sanchez
Mark_Burrows/Courtesy photograph

When confronted with a well being downside, the most effective strategy is to deal with it earlier than issues worsen.

Addressing well being care challenges within the public coverage house, however, is a sluggish and laborious course of that fails to think about the short-term wants of those that would profit. And, relating to ensuring immigrants have entry to well being care protection, too usually the dialogue is hijacked by extremist politicians who put political complacency earlier than public well being.

California is on the forefront of justice for immigrants, having develop into the primary state within the nation to provide well being providers to immigrants no matter immigration standing.



Colorado is not there but, however we’re transferring (slowly) in the precise course, particularly in the previous few legislative periods.

Due to the management of the Colorado Group for Latina Alternative and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), state legislators in 2021 created a path to permit undocumented individuals to obtain reproductive well being providers by way of Medicaid.



State lawmakers constructed on that success this yr with Cowl All Coloradons (HB 22-1289). Amongst different issues, the measure extends the Medicaid and Youngsters’s Primary Well being Plan surplus to low-income pregnant individuals and kids, no matter immigration standing, however it’s necessary to know the timing. The state division of Well being Care Coverage and Financing has till January 1, 2025 to supply that protection.

And the threats are on the horizon. Three Republican members of the Colorado congressional delegation, Representatives Lauren Boebert, Doug Lamborn and Ken Buck, have latched onto the xenophobic notion that we must always make well being care dearer and fewer entry to providers, by way of their help for the “No Federal Taxes” marketing campaign. {Dollars} for the Regulation of Medical Insurance coverage for Unlawful Aliens”. (I am going to additionally word for the file that they selected to make use of the racist time period “unlawful alien” to explain who’s affected by the invoice.)

Colorado acquired a federal order Innovation exemption final yr to implement the Colorado Possibility, a brand new well being care plan to be provided in 2023 that goals to decrease prices for customers and cut back racial well being disparities. The waiver permits the state to maintain the cash it saves the federal authorities by reducing prices, so-called pass-through funds, to supply subsidies to Coloradans, together with undocumented immigrants who usually are not eligible for direct federal help. by way of the Reasonably priced Care Act. .



Buck bluntly acknowledged that Colorado’s novel strategy to reducing prices and increasing care is “a slap within the face to American taxpayers who rise up, go to work and combat to outlive.”

The truth that Congressman Buck thinks that undocumented immigrants do not match that description is an actual slap within the face. The Latino neighborhood is vital to the financial vitality of communities all through the Central Mountain area. Immigrants actually constructed these mountain resort communities, and our tourism economic system depends upon their labor.

Denying well being protection to those that work to maintain our communities operating is at odds with what United Voices of the Mountains and the United Voices Motion Fund have realized in our outreach and organizing.

Practically 6 in 10 Latino adults surveyed as a part of our Colorado Latino Coverage Agenda final yr he supported increasing entry to medical health insurance in Colorado, together with for undocumented immigrants. That quantity jumped to 9 out of 10 after we surveyed Latino leaders. Why? As a result of our neighborhood is disproportionately and negatively affected by the present system. Contemplate:

  • Hispanics/Latinos in Colorado have been extra more likely to be uninsured (the speed jumped from 10.1% in 2019 to 14.4% final yr), even because the statewide uninsured charge decreased from 7.9% in 2019 at 7.5% final yr
  • Latinas are thrice extra more likely to be uninsured than non-Hispanics in Colorado, and Latino and Latino kids are twice as more likely to be uninsured

That may, and should, change.

Colorado is making progress by increasing protection to cowl pregnant individuals and kids, no matter immigration standing. However we won’t cease till everybody, no matter immigration standing, can entry well being care, and we won’t wait till 2025 for this to occur.

Alex Sanchez is the Founder and Government Director of Voces Unidas Motion Fund, a Latino-led, Latino-created advocacy group working in Garfield, Pitkin, Eagle, Summit, and Lake counties.

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