Recent Immigrants in Better Health, Study Finds
The health of "longtime" migrant farm workers is "considerably worse" than that of workers who have "just arrived" in the United States, even after the workers' age is taken into account, according to preliminary findings of a study to be released later this month by the California Policy Research Center. The New York Times reports that the newly arrived, illegal workers have lower levels of cholesterol, blood pressure and obesity than do legal workers who have lived here for "a while." Many factors contribute to the established workers' poor health, including "unfamiliarity" with American medicine, lack of exercise when unemployed, poor diet and lack of money and insurance.
Growers, acknowledging the "substandard" health of their workers, say that they cannot afford to provide insurance coverage, adding that the workers do not "take care of themselves." The Times reports that growers worker advocates say that the federal system of health clinics for the workers is "inadequate." Of the nation's 3,400 community health clinics, 400 serve migrant workers. The Bush administration has proposed increasing the budget for CHCs by $124 million, or 10%, a move that advocates "applaud." They are "unhappy," however, that Bush's budget proposes cutting funds to train doctors in underserved rural areas, the Times reports. Farm owners favor laws that will allow them to provide insurance coverage for legal and illegal workers through "grower associations" and support an increase in government-sponsored mobile health clinics to visit the farms. Robert Ross, president of the California Endowment, said, "It's an appalling picture. These are people who help keep food prices low for American families, and I have a hard time figuring out why their health status should be so poor" (Greenhouse, New York Times, 5/13).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.