Advocating for Equity and Community Engagement as New Immigrant Health Programs Launch


Grantee: Northwest Health Law Advocates (NoHLA)
Timeframe: October 2023 – September 2024 | Amount: $30,000


Photo credit: Empower Next Generations. Lee Che Leong training Community Health Workers in Skagit County on 2024 immigrant health programs.

Summary: NoHLA will advocate for equitable implementation of Washington’s new undocumented immigrant health programs launching in 2024, offering King County communities training and tools to participate in shaping the programs in this critical start-up phase.


NoHLA will engage in systemic advocacy, community training, and consultation with organizations helping individuals navigate the programs in the Puget Sound area and beyond.

2024 is the critical year to shape the new programs. Agencies have only a few months to build two new programs from the ground up. There is high risk that the programs will fall short without concerted advocacy and community input, given the tight implementation timelines, insufficient capped funding to meet need, and scant detail from the Legislature about how the programs should be operationalized. The need for NoHLA’s expertise is significant and time-sensitive.

NoHLA has a solid foundation for this work: for the last 3 years, NoHLA has provided extensive support to the Health Equity for Immigrants Campaign, a collaboration of immigrant community leaders and allies working toward affordable health coverage for all immigrants. NoHLA served as the primary policy and legal lead among the campaign’s leadership committee.

Now that the new programs are assured, NoHLA is shifting to a focus on implementation. They will conduct the following activities:

  1. Community-focused implementation workgroup. NoHLA is facilitating a workgroup to coordinate input of community-based groups and allies into the state’s proposed implementation plans for both new immigrant coverage programs, and provide technical support for advocating with the state agencies to:
    1. Eliminate barriers that prevent people from enrolling in and maintaining coverage (e.g., waitlist structure, language access and privacy concerns, excess documentation requirements);
    2. Ensure access to needed care (e.g., getting services through state-contracted health plans, availability of interpreters and transportation, using the appeal process);
    3. Commit to program procedures and contract provisions that ensure services are provided in a non-discriminatory manner, and agencies and health plans are accountable to immigrant communities.
  1. Know Your Rights community trainings. NoHLA will offer at least 5 know-your-rights trainings in partnership with community-based groups and social service organizations serving immigrants to help inform potentially eligible immigrants about who qualifies for each of the programs, what benefits are available, costs, how to apply for and navigate the new programs, and language access rights. They will collaborate with community organizations to offer interpretation and translation in non-English languages where appropriate and possible. NoHLA will offer trainings in King County and throughout the state and will record virtual trainings and create online resources that can be used as a standing resource for community-based organizations.
  2. Community support and trouble-shooting. NoHLA will provide free consultation and support to community-based organizations regarding problems that arise with access to the new programs. NoHLA presents monthly to over a hundred public benefits Navigators/assisters and others through Seattle/King County Public Health’s “First Friday Forum.” NoHLA is the only regular non-agency presenter and we play a critical role in offering neutral advice to attendees about how to navigate problems with the agencies. NoHLA also presents regularly and fields requests to trouble-shoot programs from legal advocates who directly serve clients. NoHLA expects these requests will accelerate given parallel developments that will allow more of these lawyers to serve undocumented clients.
  3. Ongoing community feedback. NoHLA will solicit feedback on how the programs are going and monitor data on how the program is being implemented to identify any problems (such as how many people are enrolled/terminated and measures of access to care and language assistance).

About Our Grantee

Northwest Health Law Advocates (NoHLA)

Northwest Health Law Advocates is the consumer voice in the health care debate. NoHLA aims to improve access to health care for all Washington residents in furtherance of health as a human right.

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