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Border & Immigration

San Diego County Community Clinics Fear Congress Will Cut Funding

A migrant farm worker is shown harvesting sunflowers in Carlsbad, Feb. 23, 2015.
Promise Yee
A migrant farm worker is shown harvesting sunflowers in Carlsbad, Feb. 23, 2015.

Topic Part Of Western Forum for Migrant and Community Health In San Diego

Health officials meeting in San Diego this week are worried that Congress is considering a 70 percent cut in funding for community clinics that serve the poor and migrant farm workers.

The reason for the possible cut: More people have health care coverage through Covered California and Medicare so some lawmakers don't think the clinics need as much financial support.

The topic's been part of the Western Forum for Migrant and Community Health at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay. The conference is sponsored by the Northwest Regional Primary Care Association.

Bedding inside a migrant worker's makeshift house in Carlsbad, Feb. 23, 2015.
Promise Yee
Bedding inside a migrant worker's makeshift house in Carlsbad, Feb. 23, 2015.

Vista Community Clinic CEO Fernando Sañudo said migrant workers and other underserved patients who do not qualify for health insurance fall between the cracks.

If federal funds were reduced by 70 percent, outreach services that connect and transport migrant workers to the clinic and help prevent the spread of communicable diseases would be cut back or stopped, Sañudo said.

“There’s currently what we’re calling the fiscal cliff,” he said. “That Congress, if they don’t reappropriate the funds into these health centers, we have the risk of losing 70 percent of our federal dollars.”

Sañudo said a loss of funds would also reduce or eliminate doctor education loan repayment programs, which provide an incentive for doctors to work in underserved, high-need clinics.

Migrant workers’ self-made home is pictured in Carlsbad, Feb. 23, 2015.
Promise Yee
Migrant workers’ self-made home is pictured in Carlsbad, Feb. 23, 2015.

Dr. Seiji Hayashi, the chief medical officer for the U.S. Department of Health Services, visited the Vista Community Clinic and a remote farm worker encampment on Monday while attending the conference.

The visit allowed the clinic to share what it has found to be best practices and challenges in serving the vulnerable, high-need population of North County migrant farm workers.

Congress is expected to make a funding decision by Sept. 30.

Corrected: September 26, 2022 at 6:18 PM PDT
Promise Yee is a North County freelance writer. Contact her at promise.yee.1@gmail.com. Twitter: @promisenews. Facebook: promise.yee.1.
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