Task Force Recommends Steps to Improve Farmworkers’ Health
California should increase access to its public health programs, develop a "cross-border health insurance program" and devise a county-run "clearinghouse" to fund farmworker programs, a statewide task force on improving farmworker health has recommended, the Fresno Bee reports. The task force was formed as part of a "groundbreaking health survey," conducted by the California Institute for Rural Studies and funded by the California Endowment, that found that most farmworkers are at "serious risk" of developing a life-threatening chronic illness, and many have little or no access to care. The task force recommended:
- finding funding to increase farmworkers' access to public health programs;
- creating a system to reserve some of farmworkers' tax and Social Security contributions for an insurance program;
- developing a United States-Mexico program to promote health education and increase farmworker coverage;
- establishing Farm Worker Health Commissions in counties that need assistance; and
- increasing long-term funding commitments to the farmworker housing endowment.
The California Endowment, which has committed $50 million over five years to improve farmworkers' health, will now work to implement the recommendations. Endowment spokesperson Paul Hernandez said, "We have a severe health crisis, and we are committed to solving the problem." The Endowment intends to release a report of the recommendations in July (Rodridguez, Fresno Bee, 6/22).
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