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In the next year, California will provide low-income immigrants with more access to health care.

By 2024 there will be more than 700,000 immigrants that will have access to free healthcare. Advocates for immigrant healthcare have been pushing for the state to cover healthcare due to the many cases where immigrants are unable to afford medical care in which they end up in the emergency room. After the Title IX EMTALA bill was passed in the 1980s, it essentially permitted anyone, regardless of immigration status, to enter any Emergency Room and undergo screening to determine the necessity of treatment. If deemed an emergency, the Emergency Room is obligated to provide treatment, irrespective of the patient’s financial ability or documentation.

The state financing of immigrant healthcare differs in other countries, notably in the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, and Germany, where “universal health” or “resident health” systems cover all emergency medical care. The cost is typically funded through taxes or Social Security contributions. Many undocumented immigrants have shared why they often delay seeking medical attention or resort to the ER as a last resort. The financial barriers associated with yearly appointments, checkups, and the expense of health insurance lead many immigrants to postpone addressing their health concerns.

Providing immigrants with free healthcare, or extending this benefit to everyone, should be considered a fundamental right for every human. Not only should everyone have free care, but it would be for the population’s benefit because disease can spread easily if a certain population is excluded from medical care. In conclusion, immigrants are human beings and, like anyone with citizenship, deserve the same rights and access to healthcare as U.S. citizens enjoy.

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