The shift of resources away from local or community health clinics has negatively impacted access to health care among undocumented Latino residents. As Mayor, how will your administration address health care issues for undocumented Latino residents who are not covered by the Affordable Care Act?

Healthcare

In the first six months of 2012 the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) implemented important health reforms that have since improved the quality of services provided to Chicago residents and have made partnerships with community providers across the city stronger. CDPH now partners with Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC’s), which are non-profit, community-directed health care providers dedicated to serving low-income and medically underserved communities. FQHC’s are expected to see everyone, irrespective of their ability to pay and regardless of their immigration status. While we believe that these community health clinics are beneficial for the undocumented community, access to health insurance and the Affordable Care Act is needed. Thus, we will continue to join the overwhelming majority of the American people in pushing Congress to act on comprehensive immigration reform, so that undocumented immigrants have access to a pathway to citizenship and other benefits such as access to health care.

I will meet with Cook County representatives to assure that the County facilities such as Stroger, Provident and Oak Lawn are accessible to all Chicago residents, including those not covered by the Affordable Care Act. I will declare a TIF surplus with the vast sum that is not committed to any specific projects or debt. That money could then be used to reopen our mental health clinics to begin meaningful neighborhood economic development programs. I also believe that ensuring that undocumented immigrants have a pathway to legal work in Chicago where they are able to earn the same healthcare and work benefits as citizens will go far to addressing the lack of health care in the Latino community.

My approach to healthcare is guided by the belief that it is a human right and a matter of public health. As long as federal policy continues to exclude undocumented immigrants, local governments have a responsibility to ensure that all residents can access quality and affordable health services. As Mayor, I will work to ensure that every Chicagoan has access to equitable, high quality, culturally competent, and affordable healthcare, regardless of immigration status. I support community health centers in our neighborhoods that provide free, culturally competent, and language-appropriate services. We must expand preventative services at community clinics, schools and community-based organizations, including community education programs that increase health literacy, encourage healthy behavior and connect community members to health care services. I would actively explore the possible merger of City/County health services in order to provide more comprehensive services for our region and do so in a high quality and efficient manner.

Accessible Mental Health Clinics are key to stopping the violence in Chicago. Some people are psychotic, delusional, and/or depressed. Many people are walking the streets in a haze. They are in need of treatment or medication. We must make a commitment to treat Mental Illness just as we commit to the treatment of other illnesses and diseases. Under my administration, the city of Chicago Department of Public Health will act responsibly and make health services programs available for full use by all residents. That includes undocumented residents.

Community health centers are critical resources for our most underserved population. My administration would review and analyze the current funding being provided to the community health centers and work to ensure that the dollars are being utilized in the most efficient manner.