HEALTH

Undocumented Workers Offered Low Cost Health Care in Los Angeles

CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 06:  Staff in the Trauma Unit at the John H. Stroger Jr. Cook County Hospital try to save the life of a man who was hit by a car November 6, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The hospital's Trauma Unit, which admits approximately 4,500 patients annually, is one of the oldest and largest trauma units in the United States.  Ninety-eight percent of the patients admitted survive.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 06: Staff in the Trauma Unit at the John H. Stroger Jr. Cook County Hospital try to save the life of a man who was hit by a car November 6, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The hospital's Trauma Unit, which admits approximately 4,500 patients annually, is one of the oldest and largest trauma units in the United States. Ninety-eight percent of the patients admitted survive. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)  (2009 Getty Images)

A community clinic and a food service worker group is offering undocumented immigrants and other uninsured Los Angeles restaurant workers inexpensive health care coverage.

Restaurant Opportunities Center of Los Angeles spokeswoman Mariana Huerta says about 75,000 restaurant workers in Los Angeles don't have access to insurance because they are undocumented immigrants.

The center has partnered with St. John's Well Child and Family Center to offer physicals, dental care and treatment for common illnesses at $25 a month. The ROC-MD program, which started last fall, was formally announced on Wednesday.

The insurance coverage doesn't replace traditional coverage, but instead focuses on preventive care so undocumented immigrants don't end up in emergency rooms. 

"Emergency rooms are the providers of last resort, and they are very expensive," said David Hayes-Bautista, director of UCLA's Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture, according to the Los Angeles Times. "If people can be provided alternatives, that saves everyone money."

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The Los Angeles Times said the program could be the first of its kind in the nation.

Legal immigrants and restaurant workers who cannot afford coverage under the health care law are also eligible.

Many of the workers' children are covered by Medi-Cal, which helps offset the cost of care for the adults, said Jim Mangia, the clinic's president and chief executive.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press. 

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