On the edge without a net

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On the edge without a net

High number of uninsured Hispanics strains economy, families
Myriam and Ruben Balaguer, in the front yard of their home in the Animas Valley, discuss their plight without health insurance.
Ruben Balaguer examines his garden in the front yard of his home in the Animas Valley. Ruben and his wife, Myriam, are without health insurance.
What’s working

Here’s a look at some of initiatives, policies and programs that people interviewed for this series said are working or hold promise:
At the national level
The Affordable Health Care Act has, could or will:
Expand health-insurance coverage eligibility to about 9 million Hispanic Americans through new small-business tax credits, more relaxed Medicaid income eligibility requirements, insurance exchanges and high-risk pools.
Create free access to preventive care.
Invest in community teams to educate and assist hard-to-reach segments of the population, including the Hispanic community.
Prohibit insurers from denying coverage or increasing premiums for reasons of age, gender, race or ethnicity.
Increase data collection and research efforts surrounding existing and emerging disparities of access and care.
Expand initiatives to improve ethnic and cultural training among medical and human services providers.
In Colorado
Programs and policies working to address the problems include:
A federally-subsidized, locally administered CHP+ program that provides low-cost insurance for some children in families whose income does not qualify them for Medicaid.
A new software interface implemented Aug. 29 that makes it easier to apply for Medicaid and CHP+, allowing the state to obtain documents such as birth certificates electronically.
Policies at agencies that screen eligibility for state and federal assistance programs, such as the county’s human services department, San Juan Basin Health Department and Family Center of Durango, to not report undocumented residents to immigration or law-enforcement officials. (Each also has Spanish-speaking staff available.)
Eligibility for citizen children of undocumented residents who fit income requirements to receive subsidized health insurance through Medicaid or CHP+.
Medicaid coverage for undocumented adults facing a “life or death” medical situation or labor and delivery.
In La Plata County
Programs and policies working to address the problems include:
Vaccination and screening services with a sliding-scale fee structure at San Juan Basin Health Department. (The agency recently announced it will cut prenatal services.)
Spanish-speaking interpreters for completing forms and medical visits from The La Plata Unity Project.
A new discount health-care program for residents who do not meet income or immigration-status requirements of other programs through Community Access and Referral Enrollment System, or CARES. (Residents can apply at La Plata County Department of Human Services, Family Center of Durango, San Juan Basin Health Department, 9-R School-based Health Center and Mercy Regional Medical Center.)
Home and community-based medical screenings, patient education, lab work and prescriptions through Promoviendo La Salud, a program of the San Juan Basin Health Department.
Free information about health insurance and national health-care reform to small-business owners can be accessed through the Durango Chamber of Commerce at www.durangobusiness.org. (The site has a Spanish translation function.)

On the edge without a net

Myriam and Ruben Balaguer, in the front yard of their home in the Animas Valley, discuss their plight without health insurance.
Ruben Balaguer examines his garden in the front yard of his home in the Animas Valley. Ruben and his wife, Myriam, are without health insurance.
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