LATINA HEALTH: Lawmakers Tout Survey as Call for Action
A major study on Latina health was released yesterday "as a platform for legislation planned by a group of mostly Latino lawmakers," the Los Angeles Times reports. The study found that a third of Latinas in California and 39% in Los Angeles County do not have health insurance ( click here for previous coverage of the study). Overall, some 1.5 million Latinas lack health care coverage. "This kind of injustice has to cease," said state Sen. Hilda Solis (D-El Monte). State. Sen. Martha Escutia (D-Huntington Park), new chair of the state Senate Health and Human Services Committee, is expected to spearhead a legislative push to address the issue.
Among the reasons Latinas are likely to lack insurance are "high poverty and unemployment," and many Latinas work in agricultural and manufacturing jobs that do not provide coverage. In addition, public coverage such as Medi-Cal has a stigma that Latinas are eager to avoid and many consider buying private insurance a waste of money since they are "healthy now." As a result, legislators noted that overcoming the barriers to Latinas receiving quality health care will be difficult, citing other cultural concerns such as "the Catholic Church's ban on contraception." Latina health advocates suggested proposals such as additional research on illness rates, expanding Healthy Families to include mothers as well as children, and creating incentives such as tax breaks for businesses to offer health insurance. "We need to ... make people realize that if they provide health care, they'll have happier, healthier workers and less absenteeism," said Escutia (Pyle, 1/28).