Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=178908
Story Retrieval Date: 3/8/2014 4:53:15 AM CST
In a move that could potentially cripple services offered by community health centers, the House of Representatives was expected to vote Thursday on Continuing Resolutions, one of which calls for a spending cut of close to $2 billion dollars in community health care funding.
The cut would result in nearly 150,000 people losing access to affordable health care in Illinois, according to the
National Association of Community Health Centers.
These facilities, known as Federally Qualified Health Centers, are community-based organizations that cater to underserved communities and the uninsured, including undocumented immigrants.
According to 2007 U.S. Census data, a little more than 20 percent of the 43 million uninsured in the country are undocumented immigrants.
Dr. Michelle Gitler, a physician at Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital, says blocking access to basic health care will have negative consequences in the long run.
“If we don’t cover more people with primary care, they are going to use the emergency care more often,” she said.
The long-term treatment costs would be more than what is required to offer basic health care to everyone, with or without documents, Gitler said.
The focus needs to be on measures to deter illegal immigration, said Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
“What you want to do is ensure health care facilities are not made available to illegal aliens,” he said, “instead of putting in place cuts that affect everyone.”