Seeking answers about changes in education policy and health reform, about 200 promotoras, or Latina community health leaders, gathered at the Mexican Consulate in Natomas on Saturday.
Specifically, participants of the second annual Conference of Women Leaders learned what advantages and disadvantages the new Affordable Care Act has in store for their Northern California communities.
Now that President Barack Obama has won re-election, national health care reform is destined to move forward. Consequently, communities all across the state are seeking greater detail about how it will affect them.
The act, as passed by Congress in 2010, excludes undocumented immigrants from its main feature, an exchange in which people can buy health insurance at reasonable prices.
In California, this is of particular concern. About 40 percent of residents are Latino, some of whom have arrived to find work but lack proper papers.
Some promotoras noted that the Latino community turned out heavily on Election Day for Obama, and they perceived a lack of gratitude for their support.
But Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, director of the Center for Reducing Health Disparities, noted that this is a historic time filled with opportunities.
The ACA's expansion of Medi-Cal eligibility to a great swath of lower-income people will aid the Latino community, he said.
Elliot Enriquez, project manager of a Northern California community health coalition, reminded attendees that a network of clinics exists to provide low-cost care to anyone who walks in the door.
And opportunities to increase the workforce of promotoras – also referred to as assisters or navigators – are expected to proliferate as implementation of the ACA nears in 2014.
Mexico has a federal health insurance plan, called Seguro Popular, for every Mexican national, even those living in California. Consulate officials reminded the gathering that, should a Mexican citizen become seriously or chronically ill, he or she can travel back home to access covered health care.
For guidance on prevention of diabetes, high blood pressure, healthy eating and active living, there's the Ventanilla de Salud (health information window) at the consulate, located at 2093 Arena Boulevard in Natomas, as well as monthly health fairs where people can get dental and health checkups.