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May 28, 2015

Health Care For All: Undocumented Lives Matter

by Jacqueline Hernandez

photo by Mark Chalico

Ed Note: Jacqueline Hernandez is a 22 year old resident of South Merced. Currently a student at Merced College, Hernandez began working with MOP (Merced Organizing Project) when she realized issues in her community  could be changed through unity and effort.

Hernandez is part of a large cadre of residents, youth and community organizations that are advocating in support of SB4, a California bill that if passed would provide health coverage to all Californians, regardless of immigration status. The following is an opinion editorial by Hernandez, detailing why she feels SB4 is the logical step for Merced County and California. 

There is no doubt that of the various pressing issues of our time, one of the most important issues facing communities in California, including Merced County, is health care for undocumented residents. We need health care for all now. SB4, a bill currently in the California legislature, could provide that.

The reality is that most undocumented are hard working, tax paying individuals that are out risking their lives everyday helping our county thrive. They do this while having the lowest paying wages, working the longest hours and most importantly not having even the simplest form of health coverage. This is quite inhumane and degrading. Why not support Bill SB4?

SB4 would guarantee that 24,000 undocumented residents of Merced County receive necessary health coverage. This would help all the undocumented workers who work our valleys the opportunity to receive regular doctor checkups and access to the medications they need. There have been too many cases where undocumented people are forced to wait until the pain is unbearable and finally seek help in emergency rooms. SB4 will help prevent serious injuries from happening in the future by simply offering our community the bare minimum of health coverage that everyone deserves.

Merced recently had a community forum on May 8th 2015, where two of senator Gray’s representatives came out to listen to our community’s needs. It is great that they took the time to come out to listen but it didn’t seem like they were too interested in hearing about health care for undocumented people.The matter is simply swept under the rug to be left behind. Maybe some of our representatives really aren’t aware of the duties that come with their job, or could it be that it’s simply easier to ignore?

During the forum, Senator Gray’s representative seemed to bring up other issues not relevant to Health 4 All whenever he was asked questions. He made it clear that there was not much he was willing to do, to get our community some sort of health net. It is frustrating to see that the our community’s elected officials are not sympathetic to the risks and daily struggles of our community.

Our community is not going to stop pushing for health coverage for all the tax paying and hardworking citizens of Merced County and our surrounding areas. The lives of our undocumented families, friends, and neighbors matter just as much as those lives of documented people.



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