Providing Health Care Access to Over 75,000 Low Income Immigrant Workers

LOS ANGELES – The Restaurant Opportunities Center of Los Angeles (ROC-LA), a non-profit workers’ center and chapter of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United), announced the launch of ROC M.D., a health care cooperative for uninsured restaurant workers. This historic program will  provide access to health care for over 75,000 Los Angeles restaurant workers who lack coverage and are excluded from current health care reform. ROC-LA made this announcement along with the St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, the main health care provider for the ROC M.D. program.

“We want to ensure that all low-wage workers, who are the most vulnerable and often exploited by employers, have their health needs addressed,” said Stephanie Cho, Lead Coordinator of ROC-LA, “Our historic collaboration with St. John’s Well Child and Family Center will provide affordable health care access, from basic dental care to getting needed prescriptions to being able to see a doctor when they are sick, to thousands of restaurant workers in Los Angeles.”

 

Although the Affordable Health Care for America Act expanded comprehensive health coverage to millions of uninsured people, the Act does not provide coverage options to millions of immigrants who have been in the United States for less than five years. This gap in coverage leaves an estimated 75,000 immigrant restaurant workers without health care options in Los Angeles County. Regardless of immigration status, a recent study conducted by ROC- LA found that 89.9% of restaurant workers do not receive health insurance from their employers.

 

Without access to affordable health care, many restaurant workers delay seeing the doctor and use expensive emergency rooms as clinics. Many restaurant workers are low income but are barred from eligibility for MediCal also because of their citizenship status. However, many of these same workers do not make enough to afford private health insurance. This creates a void in affordable access to care that ROC M.D., a health care cooperative for restaurant workers, is designed to cover.

 

Through ROC M.D., individual members of the cooperative contribute $20 per month and their $5 monthly dues to ROC-LA, and have access to primary care, preventative care, caseworkers, basic dental care, and health education. There are also affordable options for restaurant employers to cover their uninsured restaurant workers.

Information sessions for the health care cooperative will be conducted in English and Spanish on Thursday, May 3rd at 10:00am-2:00pm, Friday, May 4 at 2:00pm-5:00pm, Monday, May 7 12:00-4:00pm, Thursday 10, 12:00-2:00pm at St. John’s Well Child and Family Center. For more information about ROC M.D., call ROC-LA at (213) 489-9052, or email natalia@rocunited.org. Information is also available on the internet at www.rocunited.org.