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The Consequences of Denying Healthcare to Undocumented Individuals and

By Katherine Fennelly, Professor of Public Affairs at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute, IHRC Affiliate

The American press has been filled with news stories on the rapid increase of the Latino population in both traditional and non-traditional immigration states (“Hispanics driving population growth in Georgia� The Telegraph, “Lee minority population young, soaring� Newspress.com, “Beaufort County leads state in growth� The Beaufort Gazette). At the same time local officials in some parts of the country are proposing legislation that would deny benefits to the US-born children of undocumented immigrants, a majority of whom are Latinos.

The Institute of Medicine Report “Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century� has called upon the United States to ensure that quality care is available to all, without differentiating by race or ethnicity, yet lack of health insurance is the single largest determinant of the differences between Latinos and Whites in access to regular health providers (Mayberry et al, 2006). The growing ‘chasm’ is particularly ironic given that first-generation immigrants—including low income Latinos—are generally healthier than US-born residents when they first come to the country. It is only by the second and third generations that alarming health disparities begin to emerge in the form of higher risk behaviors and chronic illnesses. Scientists speculate that lack of access to health care is one of the culprits in what is known as the loss of the ‘healthy migrant effect’, as are changes in diet and exercise. Given the size and the rapid growth of the Latino population in the US today, decisions regarding access to health and social services will not only determine the future of Latino youth, but that of the nation as a whole.

Additional reference:
Improving quality and reducing inequities: a challenge in achieving best care
R. M. Mayberry, D. A. Nicewander, H. Qin, and D. J. Ballard Proc (Baylor University Medical Center) 19:103-118, 2006
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Contributer: Katherine Fennelly
Office: 144 Humphrey Center
Phone: (612) 625-6685
E-mail: fenne007@umn.edu

Katherine Fennelly is Professor of Public Affairs at the Hubert H.
Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota, and the 2006-2007
Fesler-Lampfer Chair in Urban and Regional Affairs. Her research,
teaching and outreach interests include immigration and public policy,
leadership in the public sector, the human rights of immigrants and
refugees in the United States, and the preparedness of communities and
public institutions to adapt to demographic changes. Recent projects and
publications focus on the determinants of attitudes toward immigrants
and their successful integration into US communities.

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