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Barriers To Health And Human Services Programs For Immigrants

2700 words - 11 pages

Barriers to Health and Human Services Programs for Immigrants
Sheryl Tello
HHS 460
Prof. Nilajah Nyasuma
February 7, 2014

Barriers to Health and Human Services Programs for Immigrants
“America is built upon the history of immigration; yet current immigration policy and anti-immigrant sentiment negatively affect the vulnerable population of immigrant families and their children” (Androff et al., 2011, p.77). Both documented and undocumented immigrants face barriers to education, poor health outcomes, discrimination, and trauma and harm to their communities. Due to these and other barriers, the immigrant population is at a higher risk to contract and spread communicable diseases such as ...view middle of the document...

However, due to stricter program eligibility requirements, and barriers (such as language) to access, eligible immigrants tend to use these benefits at a much lower rate than U.S.-born citizens.
The complexity of application, eligibility rules, and verification
The complexity of the states' applications, program rules, and eligibility systems create significant barriers for immigrant families because the specific policies and requirements related to immigrant eligibility and verification change so rapidly, across different programs, and add greatly to an already high level of complexity. State-level legislations may frequently allow and/or rescind expansions of eligibility for some immigrant populations that are covered by federal program options or state-only funded programs. For example, “in one state, program administrators explained that the income verification process for benefits changed annually as part of the legislature's budget negotiations” (Androff et al., 2011, p.78). Over the past several years, federal laws have changed the governing of health and human services programs, the clarification of federal rules or guidance, which led to frequent updates in the eligibility of some immigrant populations, as well as requiring administrative staff members to recognize several different types of immigration documents. “As a result, program administrators and staff in immigrant-serving community-based organizations had difficulty keeping their knowledge of eligibility rules and required documentation up to date” (Pereira et al., 2012, p.6).
While many immigrant families have a difficult time understanding the applications and the rules that require the proof of citizenship for adults and Social Security numbers for those benefits are being applied for, others are limited in education, language, and computer literacy skills that are needed to understand the applications, which can be 20 pages in length.
Educational, cultural, and language barriers
Most immigrants (documented and undocumented) have “limited access to health care and face financial, educational, cultural, and language barriers that affect their health status, early diagnosis, and adequate care” (Urruyia-Rojas, Marshall, Trevino, Lurie, & Minguia-Bayona, 2006, p.5). The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 is another barrier faced by the immigrant population.
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA).
Before the enactment of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996, documented immigrants were eligible for the same public benefits (such as TANF, Medicaid, and SNAP) as other U.S. citizens, while undocumented immigrants were ineligible. However, according to Kaushal & Kaestner (2005),
PRWORA changed legal immigrants’ access to public health insurance in two ways: by directly Medicaid benefits to immigrants who arrived in the U.S....

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