Farmworker Justice Celebrates National Health Center Week

August 11 - 17th  is National Health Center Week – a celebration of the services and contributions of community health centers to the health and well-being of millions of people across the United States. Community and migrant health centers provide affordable, high-quality primary preventative healthcare to medically underserved populations, including farmworkers and their families.

Why are migrant health centers important? The barriers to healthcare for farmworkers are numerous, including poverty, cultural and linguistic differences, transportation, and immigration status. An estimated 64% of farmworkers lack any form of health insurance. Migrant health center services are tailored to meet the needs of farmworkers and their families. Mobile clinics bring clinicians to the fields and outreach workers provide health education to community members.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) creates new opportunities for farmworkers to access healthcare.  Farmworker Justice has created a fact sheet on the ACA and farrmworkers which is available here.  Some farmworkers will be eligible for tax credits in the health insurance marketplaces to lower the cost of monthly premiums, while others may be newly eligible for Medicaid. But regardless of their insurance coverage, these health centers can provide medical care for farmworkers and their families.

Health centers will play a pivotal role in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. In 2010, $11 billion over five years was set aside to support the expansion of community health center services. Many community health centers are designated as “essential community providers” and will be a part of the provider network for health insurance plans offered in the state health insurance marketplaces. Health centers will also have personnel, known as navigators, dedicated to help patients and community members understand and enroll in health insurance. Inside the clinic and out in the fields, the navigators will be trained to talk with farmworkers about health insurance options under the ACA.

Farmworker Justice supports the mission of community health centers– to provide high quality care to underserved populations in the US. Our nation’s farmworkers, the men and women who harvest the fruits and vegetables we eat, deserve healthcare that is affordable, accessible and culturally competent.