Italy's new security decree abolishes healthcare assistance for asylum seekers and refugees who are part of the country's SPRAR protection system, but in the region of Lazio, Governor Nicola Zingaretti has instructed the regional ASL healthcare service to continue providing treatment to refugees who are already enrolled in the system.
"We will instruct ASL to provide treatment and assistance to all people, even to the new 'invisibles' created by the decree," Zingaretti said. "Mimmo Lucano was right: the decree will produce devastating effects on thousands of human beings, but it will also have a very strong negative impact on cities and regions," he said, referring to the mayor of the town of Riace, who is currently suspended from his office due to allegations that he aided illegal immigration.
The risk of becoming invisible
Officials in Lazio are not just concerned over the risk that migrants who were already enrolled in the system will be suddenly left without healthcare. They are also worried that emergency rooms could soon be overcrowded, given that this is where sick migrants will inevitably turn to.
Migrants across Italy who are enrolled in a reception program also receive healthcare benefits, and this applies to every region of the country. In October the Lazio regional government adopted a resolution for "the concrete application of national and regional laws in terms of reception and healthcare for asylum seekers and those who have been granted international and humanitarian protection." The latter group is not homogeneous, comprised of those who have suffered trauma, those who come from countries with a high rate of particular diseases, as well as those who were exposed to risks both during their migratory journey as well as after.
Concern over deletion of migrants from database
Lazio Healthcare Councillor Alessio D'Amato said the regional resolution provides "precise instructions to the ASL offices and useful information for reception centre workers, to protect the migrants as well as the healthcare workers themselves".
Zingaretti said another concern is that of the choice to delete asylum seekers from the regional database. "This could mean excluding thousands more people from healthcare, with all the health risks that brings," Zingaretti said. This concern is what led to instructing the ASL offices to continue providing healthcare. "Drastically reducing the SPRAR system, excluding asylum seekers from it, and putting thousands of people out on the street without rights and outside of the healthcare system is not only immoral, it is a serious weakness and danger for the entire community," Zingaretti said. "The security decree generates chaos, marginalisation, a permanent state of emergency."