New Doc Reveals Fight to Insure Undocumented Workers

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Apr 29, 2020

The Affordable Care Act, which denies undocumented immigrants access to healthcare, leaves 11.3 million people in the U.S. vulnerable and without healthcare. Out of the one million immigrants who support older people and people with disabilities, many are undocumented. The effect that this has on many of California’s home care workers is the subject of the new documentary short “COVER/AGE,” debuting April 29, via a national online screening. The short follows Emma, an elderly Filipina caregiver, and policy advocate Héctor Plascencia as they fight to expand healthcare to everyone via the Health4All campaign.

In the 24-minute film, Emma, who is also a breast cancer survivor, shared a story that illustrates just how badly everyone in the country needs health care. While taking care of a patient during her home care work, Emma injured her back and spent $7,000 in out-of-pocket healthcare costs because she didn’t have insurance. “Even though you’re the caregiver," Emma said in the film, "if you need the care, the problem is you can’t easily get the care that you need.”  

The filmmaker, Set Hernandez Rongkilyo, agreed, noting the need for unification among grassroots organizers and organizations around this issue, in a press statement:

This country is always so ready to take the labor of undocumented people, whether it’s farmworkers who supply the food in our groceries or the homecare workers like Emma caring for the elderly. But when it comes to upholding their dignity and providing them with basic worker’s rights and healthcare, it’s like pulling teeth. We can no longer rely on Gofundme pages and charity as a form of health insurance. It never was a good enough remedy to begin with. Now more than ever, what we need is action rooted in solidarity to build better infrastructures so that all people have access to the care they deserve whether it’s during a pandemic or not. Whether they are old or not-so-old, a citizen or undocumented.

To make sure anyone who wants to see “COVER/AGE” can, the California Immigrant Policy Center, in partnership with the Center for Cultural Power, National Domestic Workers Alliance, United We Dream and Working Films, will present the screening in English, Tagalog and Spanish with English subtitles. A discussion about immigrant health justice will follow with the film’s director and two stars, a domestic worker leader and a strategist from United We Dream. RSVP here.
rnFor fact sheets on Medi-Cal expansion and information for the undocumented and uninsured, visit the California Immigrant Policy Center’s site.

View the exclusive video clip below: