Immigrant children not served by Health Care Reform will pose health risk for other children

Up to 220,000 California children could be excluded from health care reform because of immigration issues, according to a study released Thursday by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

The number represents about 20percent of all uninsured children in California, the study says.

Of those children, up to 40,000 may be eligible for coverage but may not apply due to confusion about new rules governing access to both the California Health Benefit Exchange and the state’s expanded Medi-Cal program.

Parents on all sides of the immigration question should be concerned about this because of the potential exposure to disease in schools, said Beverly Speak, CEO/executive director of Kids Come First Community Clinic in Ontario.

“If the goal of public health is to prevent the spread of infectious disease, then there is a potential threat from children who don’t have access to health care,” said Dr. Sohan Bassi, an infectious disease specialist at San Antonio Community Hospital in Upland.

Pertussis, also called whooping cough, outbreak in California originated in unvaccinated individuals that very likely did not have access to health care, Bassi said.

“Once there was the initial cluster, it spread,” he said.

The state has been struggling with the respiratory system illness’ largest surge in 63 years. Last year, among the 182 cases in San Bernardino County, there were two infant deaths.

“If a child is part of the school system, they should be part of the health care system, Bassi said.

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