Nonprofit Organizations Finding Ways to Provide Affordable Care for Undocumented Immigrants

Under the Affordable Care Act, approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants may be ineligible for acquiring subsidized coverage through federal exchanges, Medicaid coverage, and Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage. As a result, more and more of these individuals are turning to nonprofit organizations and community health centers for care. Recent programs have shown joint partnerships between different healthcare providers and nonprofit organizations to provide affordable wraparound healthcare services.

One model used to address this issue was through a partnership between Iora Health (a Cambridge, MA-based primary healthcare provider) and Grameen America (a nonprofit micro-lending organization based in New York City). Based on focus groups and surveys to assess needs and access to healthcare services among immigrant low-income female entrepreneurs, findings indicated that many women were ineligible for Medicaid or other private insurance because of immigration status. As a result, these individuals were unable to access healthcare services and resources within New York City. To address this issue, Iora Health and Grameen America developed Grameen Vida Sana for Grameen America members. Grameen Vida Sana is a $45/month benefit program that includes an affordable that includes primary care, personal health coaches, weekly group wellness meetings, educational materials, and access to health records. Grameen PrimaCare was established to provide oversight of Grameen Vida Sana and help with future implementation/replication efforts in other communities. A new clinic run by Iora Health will also open in 2014 to serve Grameen PrimaCare beneficiaries. If shown to be successful, a similar model/infrastructure can be adapted in other communities and serve as an alternative for providing care for the undocumented.

For more information about this developing endeavor, please click here.


Joanne Chan, Joint Center Graduate Scholar, Harvard School of Public Health

Divided Supreme Court upholds Michigan’s ban on affirmative action


Divided Court upholds Michigan’s ban on affirmative action: In Plain English.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court upheld the Michigan constitutional amendment that bans affirmative action in admissions to public universities.  Justice Kennedy stressed the decision was not based on the constitutionality of having a race-conscious admission process, but instead was centered around whether voters can choose to prohibit such policies.  “The Court can’t decide that an issue like affirmative action is too hard or too ‘delicate’ for voters to take on; doing so would be both an ‘unprecedented restriction’ on the voters’ ability to exercise their joint right and demeaning to the democratic process.”

Justice Sotomayor stated in her dissent to the courtroom, “…without checks, democratically approved legislation can oppress minority groups. For that reason our constitution places limits on what a majority of the people may do…For members of historically marginalized groups, which rely on the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights, the decision can hardly bolster hope for a vision of democracy that preserves for all the right to participate meaningfully and equally in self-government.”

Please click here for more information on the Supreme Court’s decision in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action.


Morgan McLeod is the Program Assistant and New Media Strategist at the Joint Center




Companies lower healthcare costs for workers


AAHealthWith the passing and enactment of the Affordable Care Act, more than 7 million Americans have been afforded the opportunity to sign up for comprehensive healthcare coverage. A provision that came with the ACA was the formation of Employers Centers of Excellence Network, a program comprised of large companies like Walmart, Target, Wells Fargo, and Lowes. Under this program, employees of these companies are able to undergo free hip and knee replacements at several hospitals around the country. Also provided under this program are travel costs, hospital expenses, and expenses for both the employee and a caregiver that can accompany them to the hospital.

These provisions have major implications for the African American community. Walmart is the largest employer of African Americans in the United States. About 20% of Walmart’s 1.4 million employees are African American. This program could bring some well-needed financial relief to communities that need it the most.


Adedotun Ogunbajo, Joint Center Graduate Scholar, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health

Effect of Urban Heat Islands and Related Energy Consumption on Minority Communities


Urban heat islands describe the concentration of heat within urban areas due to hard, impenetrable surfaces with little vegetation. The heat concentrates on the ground surface and in the air making the temperature in some cities 2 to 22 degrees (depending on the population and time of year) warmer than the surrounding suburbs.

Using satellite images in cities across the nation, a recent study found a significantly lower concentration of trees and permeable surfaces in areas with high minority populations. Combined with results of the 2000 Census, the study finds that Blacks are 52% more likely to live in urban heat islands than whites, while Asians and Latinos are 32% and 21% more likely, respectively.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes the following effects of urban heat islands:

  • Greater use of energy  (resulting in higher utilities and greater changes of system overloads causing brownouts and blackouts)
  • Increased air pollution
  • Reduced water quality from hot storm water runoff decreasing the health of aquatic life

More information on heat island effects from the EPA can be found here.

Inefficient mitigation of increased energy use can also cause health risks for homes without air conditioning and raise utility bills astronomically for inner-city families. The EPA indicates that planting more trees and vegetation, as well as using more temperature-moderating materials for pavement can help resolve this problem.


Patrice Garnette, Joint Center Graduate Scholar, The George Washington University Law School

EVENT: Our Diverse Nation: The Many Faces of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Our Diverse Nation: The Many Faces of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Host: Center for American Progress
Location: 1333 H St. NW, 10th Floor, Washington, DC 20005
Date: April 23, 2014
Time: 9:00 AM ET- 10:30 AM ET

RSVP to attend this event
Bookmark this link to watch the live webcast

Neera Tanden, President, Center for American Progress

Featured speakers:
Kiran Ahuja, Executive Director, White House Initiative on AAPIs
John Halpin, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
James A. Ferg-Cadima, Regional Counsel, MALDEF
Karthick Ramakrishnan, Director, AAPI Data

Moderated by:
Vanessa Cárdenas, Vice President, Progress 2050

Morgan McLeod is the Program Assistant and New Media Strategist at the Joint Center

Underemployment disproportionately high in African-American community

Unemployment Benefits


The problem of underemployment is one that affects the entire country but disproportionately impacts the African American community. An annual report by the National Urban League, One Nation Underemployed: Jobs Rebuild America,  found that African Americans were twice as likely as whites to be underemployed. Underemployment was defined as either currently being jobless or working part-time but desiring to work full-time. 

Key findings of the report:

  • Underemployment rates by races: Whites- 11.8%, Hispanics-18.4%, African Americans- 20.5% 
  • Unemployment rates by races: Whites- 6.5%, Hispanics-9.1%, African Americans- 13.1% 
  • Oklahoma City, Okla., Washington D.C., and Harrisburg, PA had the lowest African American unemployment rates of 80 metropolitan cities across the county.

Adedotun Ogunbajo, Joint Center Graduate Scholar, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health

ACA creates job opportunities for people of color

black nurseHealthcare is the fastest growing labor sector. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is expected to increase many low- and mid-skill health care occupations by increasing demand for primary and preventative care services. According to the Joint Center report, the health care sector could add 4.6 million jobs, with people of color making up at least one-third of the total health care workforce. These trends suggest growing opportunities for people of color.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Educate youth about health care job opportunities
  • Increase community college and college funding
  • Develop on-the-job training programs
  • Offer mid-career guidance and mentorship

Click here for full report.


Joanne Chan, Joint Center Graduate Scholar, Harvard School of Public Health