NYT: South Philly Clinic Offers Help Immigrants Can’t Get Elsewhere

"Bridges of Health" offers help to those exempt from Obamacare

The New York Times today focuses on how illegal immigrants are left behind by Obamacare—they can’t get subsidies for insurance, and are not subject to the law’s “mandate,” but remain eligible for Medicaid—by focusing on a Philly non-profit health clinic.

Puentes de Salud, which in English means “bridges of health,” was founded to provide low-cost but quality health care and social services to the growing Latino population in South Philadelphia and began treating patients in 2006. A co-founder, Dr. Steve Larson, said the organization distinguished itself from other community-health groups by addressing the underlying causes of illness, like poor nutrition, illiteracy or urban violence.

“It’s not about me writing prescriptions,” said Dr. Larson, 53, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Pennsylvania who said he began to develop his approach to community medicine while working in rural Nicaragua in the early 1990s. “This is an underground health system.”

While Puentes operates openly in partnership with community organizations, hospitals, universities and governmental institutions, many of the patients … live in fear of immigration officials.

The clinic has just two full-time employees, the Times reports, but adds: “Now, Dr. Larson is seeking financial help to open a 7,000-square-foot clinic where, in keeping with his emphasis on prevention as well as cure, half the space would be devoted to clinical services and half to education that includes nutritional advice, literacy tutoring and sex education.”