In a unique partnership, the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Los Angeles and St. John’s Well Child and Family Center are offering illegal immigrant employees in the restaurant industry healthcare coverage. The program, which actually started last fall until it was formally announced recently, is considered the first of its kind and its arrival comes at a time when many U.S. states are bolstering their immigration laws and the Supreme Court is considering the legality of Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 immigration law.
So how does the program work? For about $25 a month, restaurant employees whose immigration status makes them ineligible for healthcare can now receive both preventative and primary care; though the former seems to be the most important aspect of the program.
“Restaurant workers are preparing, serving and cooking our food,” said a representative of ROCLA. “So many of these workers reported that they go to work sick. That is a public health hazard for consumers.”
Considering there are 75,000 illegal immigrants working in the restaurant industry, this program could alleviate some public health concerns. The president and chief executive of St. John’s said most people who use the program come in with minor injuries, such as cuts and burns. The preventative care offered by the program will helpful for these workers, and it may also keep costs low.
“Emergency rooms are the providers of last resort, and they are very expensive,” said a UCLA official. “If people can be provided alternatives, that saves everyone money.”
Source: Los Angeles Times, “L.A. program offers healthcare for illegal restaurant workers,” Anna Gorman, May 3, 2012