Future Impact on Health System

The Affordable Care Act has significantly expanded the population covered by health insurance across the U.S. Nevertheless, a significant challenge remains in providing healthcare access for the over 5 million adults who remain uninsured due to their immigration status. This population is concentrated in the states with the largest immigrant populations: California, Texas, Florida, New York and Illinois, and represents a significant challenge to maintaining effective and inclusive health systems. In addition, this issue remains a humanitarian crisis for immigrant communities struggling to achieve full recognition of their status and contributions to American society.

New York City is emblematic of these challenges. Although the city has a robust and expansive system of public hospitals and federally qualified health centers that provide safety net health services, immigrant New Yorkers confront many barriers to obtaining the healthcare they seek or need. In addition, threats to the “charity care” funding that has supported these services to date put healthcare options for these populations in greater jeopardy.

Grameen PrimaCare (GPC) recently launched a model program specifically focused on uninsured immigrant women, which encompasses primary care, health promotion and support in accessing health system resources. Beginning in September, our primary care and health promotion program, Grameen VidaSana (GVS), based in our own health and wellness center in Jackson Heights, now offers clinical services in a comprehensive primary care setting, and peer-group based health promotion and prevention activities. Building on the Grameen model of center-based, weekly, small group meetings, and collaborating with our primary care delivery partner, Iora Health, GVS will serve 5,000 participants at full capacity. By integrating a health team that combines a physician, a nurse practitioner and a group of community health workers, GVS offers individual consultation, health checkups and the development of a personal plan for healthy living; a comprehensive health education curriculum linked to a program of group health conversations that foster peer support and learning; and the support of its team in navigating other health system resources through partnerships and discount agreements that foster accessibility.

The launch of this program will provide an opportunity to expand the health resources of immigrant women in New York City. It will also inform the broader health and social innovation systems on what is needed to make our health system truly inclusive.