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Health care for immigrant women: Restrictions, barriers and opportunities

Lisalyn Jacobs, JD, NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, 1522 K Street, NW, Suite 550, Washington, DC 20005, 202-326-0040, ljacobs@nowldef.org

Women who immigrate to the United States face particular barriers to health care due to a lack of quality care delivered in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner and because of legislative and regulatory restrictions that have been imposed by those seeking to reduce immigration. This presentation will discuss restrictions that limit immigrant women's access to health care and will point out opportunities to improve health in immigrant communities and in the country as a whole. Specifically it will address the problems of pregnant immigrant women who are not eligible for Medicaid in spite of the coverage that has been extended to their fetuses, denying women care for any other medical need, including post-partum care. It will also address the impact of the five-year bar to Medicaid eligibility that has been imposed on domestic violence survivors who are attempting to establish independence, in part by delinking their immigration status from that of their abusive spouses. Finally, the presentation will report on the status and potential impact of legislation that would force hospitals to report undocumented immigrants who come to the emergency room to the Department of Homeland Security. If passed, this bill could trigger a public health crisis, especially in areas with large immigrant populations, by making immigrants afraid to seek help from hospitals. This may lead to unnecessary deaths and to increases in hospital costs as immigrants postpone seeking medical services until their illnesses are so severe that they cannot be helped or require more expensive care.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant (learner) in this session will be able to

Related Web page: www.nowldef.org/

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Access to Care: Diverse Needs of Diverse Women

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA