Today during National Health Center Week 2010 is set aside to recognize the role of Community/Migrant Health Centers in providing health care to migrant and seasonal farmworkers. Approximately over 3 million workers earn their living through migrant or seasonal farm labor and play an integral role in this country’s agriculture industry.
Migrant and seasonal farmworkers frequently suffer from poor living and working conditions that lead to an array of health problems ranging from work-related injuries, to hypertension, to pesticide related illnesses and infectious diseases. Getting the health care they need can be difficult due to their mobility, low income, lack of insurance, long work hours during traditional business hours, and cultural/language barriers.
Community/Migrant Health Centers are a key source of health care for migrant and seasonal farmworkers. Since their inception in 1962, they have been successful at removing barriers to care by providing quality, comprehensive health care in the patients’ own language regardless of income or insurance status; locating in areas that are accessible to migrant and seasonal farmworkers; and customizing their services and hours of operation to meet patients’ needs.
In 2008, 16,189 migrant/seasonal farmworkers received care at Michigan Community/Migrant Health Centers. Michigan has the seventh largest migrant/seasonal farmworker population, with over 90,000 migrant and seasonal farmworkers and dependents living and working within the state’s borders at some point during the year.
Although the income levels of migrant and seasonal farmworkers would normally qualify them for most assistance programs, they are generally excluded because of the migratory nature of their employment, minimum state residency requirements, varying state Medicaid eligibility requirements, and lack of Medicaid portability from state to state. Michigan Primary Care Association, the voice for Community/Migrant Health Centers in Michigan, is collaborating with state and national partners, including the Texas Association of Community Health Centers and the Texas Medicaid Program to facilitate Medicaid portability between Texas and Michigan.
For more information about National Health Center Week, visit www.healthcenterweek.org.