Community health advocates expressed their dismay today after a judge ruled that Fresno County is no longer required to provide health care to undocumented residents.
Superior Court Judge Donald Black overturned a portion of a 30-year-old court order this week, saying the county had proven a change in law no longer requires it to pay for specialty medical services for undocumented individuals.
John Capitman the director of the Central Valley Health Policy Institute says the court’s ruling could have an impact beyond those undocumented immigrants who have been receiving care under the program.
Capitman: “There’s no other way to say it. They represent potential risk to the rest of the community, particularly folks who get infectious diseases if they can’t get appropriate care that puts all of us at risk.”
However, Black did not dissolve the entire injunction requiring health care services to the indigent. He said the court could not find that “dissolving the injunction is in the interests of justice.”
County officials say that in the wake of the Affordable Care Act their health care budget is being slashed by the state.
Fresno County’s chief administrative officer John Navarrette says the cut means they will no longer be able to provide those services to undocumented individuals.
John Navarrette: “We’re pitted in a situation that we’re not able to fund it unless we reduce other programs, other health programs. What ends up at the end of the day is you’re pinning one health program against another program to provide the coverage for undocumented folks in our community.”
The judge’s order is stayed for 60 days and will most likely be appealed.