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Advocates Urge Immigrants to Seek Health Care Despite Controversial Immigration Policy

A patient picks up a prescription at the QueensCare Health Center in East Los Angeles. (Leslie Berestein Rojas/LAist)
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As the novel coronavirus spreads, health care advocates are encouraging immigrants to go to the doctor if they think they might have coronavirus symptoms.

This urging comes at a time when immigrants may be scared to seek health care. Last month, the Trump administration updated a policy known as the "public charge" rule.

It means officials can deny green cards to immigrants who use or may use specific public benefits in the future, including federal health care like Medicaid.


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Since a draft of the proposed public charge rule came out more than two years ago, health care advocates say immigrant patients have been scared to get the help they need.

Now with the threat of coronavirus becoming widespread — along with tightened immigration policies — they worry immigrants will avoid going to the doctor if they have symptoms, potentially fueling the virus's spread.

Louisa McCarthy, president of the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County, is urging health care providers to educate immigrant patients about the virus and to encourage them to get treatment if they need it.

“Because the virus doesn’t discriminate,” McCarthy said, “Health care shouldn’t either.”

Southern California Congresswoman Norma Torres and 42 other congress members are asking the Trump administration to reconsider the public charge rule because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Read their letter:

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