New program to provide healthcare for undocumented restaurant workers

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A new pilot program is the first in Los Angeles County (and among the first in the country) to offer preventive, primary and urgent health care to restaurant workers who are largely undocumented.

There are an estimated 75,000 restaurant workers in Los Angeles — dishwashers, waiters, busboys, line cooks — who don't have access to health insurance because they are undocumented. But starting this week, 70 unionized restaurant workers will start getting some basic health care benefits.

Jim Mangia is the president and CEO of St. John’s Well Child and Family Centers in South Los Angeles, the pilot program’s care provider. He points out that even with the Affordable Care Act, many undocumented workers still aren't going to be eligible – which is where their program comes in.

“It’s extremely important that we make sure there is access," he said. "Certainly [access] to basic primary, preventive and urgent care for workers, undocumented workers, many of whom are injured on the job.”

The coverage is provided through

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