Some of our state’s most vulnerable workers and their children face a new hurdle accessing medical care if a budget proposal eliminating the Migrant Fee for Service Program goes through.
The program, administered by the Office of Rural Health and Community Care, provided specialty and dental care for more than 2200 farmworkers and farmworker children last year. The community and migrant health centers where farmworkers typically go for healthcare usually do not provide these services, so providers rely on being able to refer their patients to the care they need through the Fee for Service Program. At around $200 per encounter, this is a cost-effective way of preventing emergency room visits and chronic health problems.
Of course, it would be great if the General Assembly would recognize that employers in one of the state’s most hazardous industries should be required to provide workers’ comp coverage to their workers just like everyone else, but until then, and until growers provide private health insurance, these uninsured workers are going to need treatment – and the Fee for Service Program needs to stay in the budget.