Calif. Lawmaker Stumps for Farmworker Health Benefits Bill
Assembly member Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) says his recently introduced bill (AB 1170) to provide farmworkers with health coverage is necessary because such workers are exposed to harsh conditions but often lack access to "the most basic of health care services," the Salinas Californian reports.
Background on Health Risks
A study by the Kresge Foundation found that, between 2008 and 2010, farmworkers were five times more likely to suffer fatal work-related injuries than workers in all other "civilian industries combined."
Meanwhile, farmworkers also are exposed to potential harmful pesticides and often report respiratory problems, according to the Californian (Robledo, Salinas Californian, 3/9).
Details of AB 1170
Alejo's bill would create the Care of Agricultural Workers Fund to pay for farmworkers' health benefits.
Specifically, the Department of Industrial Relations would analyze the amount of funding spent on workers' compensation -- along with the total spent on workers' compensation medical coverage -- and then the department would direct farm employers to place that amount into the separate, continuously appropriated Care of Agricultural Workers Fund (Gorn, California Healthline, 3/2).
The fund, which would be in place as a two-year pilot program, would help pay for agricultural workers to receive care for "occupational and non-occupational injuries and illnesses."
According to the bill, workers would not need to pay:
- Deductibles; or
- Any share of premiums.
The pilot program would be reviewed by the state Legislature after the second year.
A legislative panel is expected to consider the bill by the end of March, according to the Californian (Salinas Californian, 3/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.