New York City’s communities of color and immigrant communities face a number of systemic and institutional barriers to accessing quality health care. NYLPI’s Health Justice Program works in partnership with communities to overcome these barriers through community organizing, litigation, and legislative and administrative advocacy. It is one of the few legal programs in the country to bring an explicit racial justice and immigrant rights perspective to health care advocacy.
NYLPI’s work in access to health care dates back to the late 1970s, when NYLPI joined with community groups struggling to save the public health system during a fiscal crisis in New York City. The Health Justice Program’s current efforts are focused in the following areas:
- Race, Geography, and Access to Health Care
People of color in New York City have disproportionately negative health outcomes, in part because of the inadequate availability of health care services within their communities. This problem is steadily worsening as more hospitals and clinics scale back critical services and, in some cases, close entirely.
The Health Justice Program, with its community partners, has worked to address this problem by fighting hospital and clinic closures and is working to institutionalize planning for health care services that is community-based and truly reflective of community need.
- Institutional Racism and Health Care Services
Even when they are able to access health care services, people of color often face institutional barriers to receiving the same quality of care as the majority population. One such barrier is discrimination based upon an individual’s source of payment, which leads to the segregation of patients of color in to less desirable practices and, in some cases leads, to the denial of services altogether.
NYLPI is currently working with Bronx Health REACH and other community partners to challenge the practice of separate and unequal health care facilities for people of color in New York City hospitals.
- Language Rights & Immigrant Health
Recent immigrants to the United States and other linguistic minorities face a profound shortage of doctors and facilities that provide services in languages other than English. Legal protections designed to ensure that non-English speakers receive care and materials in their language are not being enforced. In addition, immigrant community members may face discrimination in the health care system due to their immigration status or national origin. NYLPI uses litigation, community outreach and coalition building, and legislative advocacy to ensure that all people have equal access to health care regardless of the language that they speak, their immigration status, or their country of origin.
For more information about the Health Justice program, please check out our blog: http://healthjustice.wordpress.com