How Medical-Legal Partnerships Support Denver’s Immigrants3 min read
In Denver, the immigrant community is highly valued as members of the overall community. Medical-legal partnerships have emerged to protect immigrants’ rights to healthcare in Denver. With the COVID 19 pandemic, it has become more important than ever to ensure that immigrants, regardless of status, will seek out healthcare in Denver when it is needed. Medical-legal partnerships (MLPs) are ensuring that it is possible.
What Are MLPs?
MLP organizations provide both medical care and legal care at the same site. In Denver and Denver county, immigrants only make up about 15.7% of the population. However, they contribute to the economy on a much greater scale. About 23% of warehouse workers are immigrants, and about 23.5% of food workers are immigrants, according to the group New American Economy.
Often these valuable members of our community face specific challenges like access to health care or access to legal resources. In 2018, over 75,000 residents in Denver did not have health insurance. 44% of the uninsured were immigrants. MLP groups are making a difference for immigrants by helping with legal problems and health care problems. They are helping immigrants to find the resources that they need to make living in America better.
Healthcare is a human right but is often denied. This is true of both native-born Americans and new immigrants. COVID 19 has taught us how important it is to ensure that everyone has access to healthcare not just to keep themselves healthy but to keep their friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors healthy as well.
Of course, COVID 19 is not our only health risk in the US. We are plagued with diabetes, high blood pressure, and other “lifestyle” diseases, and it is not only illness and disease that can instigate the need for health care. Workplace injuries are also a health risk. A lot of people mistakenly believe that our worker’s compensation program is full of false claims, but according to statistics, only about 1% to 2% of claims are fraud claims. A new immigrant may find it hard to even file a claim, much less get care for a workplace injury.
Workplace injuries are a good example of how an MLP center can help an immigrant. Immigrants typically work in risker jobs than other groups, which means they are more prone to workplace injuries. However, because of language barriers, they may be unaware that there is a compensation system in place that they can file a claim with. At an MLP, information is gathered about how the injury was sustained and then the available resources can be pointed out.
One of the best things that an MLP in Denver does is disseminate information. For example, most Americans know that exercise can be a part of good overall health. Exercise can be incorporated into the things you love to do, like playing golf. For example, if a man that is 175 pounds carries his own clubs around the course, they can burn about 460 calories. This is easy for Americans to understand because we are constantly fed information about healthy lifestyles. However, for an immigrant, this information may not be readily available.
Of course, the above example is a simple example of how MLPs can provide information to help improve an immigrant’s life. In other cases, the dissemination of information is critical to the safety of the immigrant and far more complex.
Many immigrants are afraid of authority and afraid to ask when they need help. They are very willing to take steps to improve their lives but are not aware of what those steps are. MLPs in Denver share information that can help the immigrants to help themselves.
The Legal Issues
Immigration laws can literally change with the drop of a hat or the switch in administration. TRAC has reported that about 1.5% of immigration cases involving children and women that are able to establish a reason for having a “credible fear” of returning to their country are successful. In large part, these cases are denied because legal help was not available early on.
MLPs in Denver are making a positive difference for immigrants in Denver by providing both legal and medical help when it is needed.