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Marina Pantchenko

2013, Equal Justice Works Fellowships, Marina Pantchenko

Marina Pantchenko

Name of Host Organization: Bay Area Legal Aid
City, State: Oakland, California
Issue area: Health Care
Sponsors: Hewlett-Packard, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

The Project

Marina is improving health care access for indigent newcomer refugees in Alameda County through community outreach and education, policy advocacy, litigation, and direct client representation.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project
The overwhelming majority of refugees resettling in Alameda County arrive from extremely unstable country conditions where they were subjected to displacement and extensive trauma. As a result, they are plagued with disproportionately high rates of chronic, but preventable, illnesses. Burmese and Bhutanese refugees in particular face poverty, staggering unemployment rates, and social and linguistic isolation upon arrival. Though initially all refugees receive eight months of medical assistance, virtually all single adults are disqualified thereafter. Under the terms of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), single adults are now eligible for health care coverage. Newcomer refugees, however, need help to navigate the hurdles to accessing public benefits and advocacy to ensure they remain eligible for assistance while beginning their new life is the U.S.