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Impacts of the Interim Federal Health Program reforms: A stakeholder analysis of barriers to health care access and provision for refugees

Valentina Antonipillai, Andrea Baumann, Andrea Hunter, Olive Wahoush, Timothy O'Shea

Abstract


BACKGROUND: Changes to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) in 2012 reduced health care access for refugees and refugee claimants, generating concerns among key stakeholders. In 2014, a new IFHP temporarily reinstated access to some health services; however, little is known about these changes, and more information is needed to map the IFHP’s impact.

OBJECTIVE: This study explores barriers occurring during the time period of the IFHP reforms to health care access and provision for refugees.

METHODS: A stakeholder analysis, using 23 semi-structured interviews, was conducted to obtain insight into stakeholder perceptions of the 2014 reforms, as well as stakeholders’ position and their influence to assess the acceptability of the IFHP changes.

RESULTS: The majority of stakeholders expressed concerns about the 2014 IFHP changes as a result of the continuing barriers posed by the 2012 retrenchments and the emergence of new barriers to health care access and provision for refugees. Key barriers identified included lack of communication and awareness, lack of continuity and comprehensive care, negative political discourse and increased costs. A few stakeholders supported the reforms as they represented some, but limited, access to health care.

CONCLUSION: Overall, the reforms to the IFHP in 2014 generated barriers to health care access and provision that contributed to confusion among stakeholders, the transfer of refugee health responsibility to provincial authorities and the likelihood of increased health outcome disparities, as refugees and refugee claimants chose to delay seeking health care. The study recommends that policy-makers engage with refugee health stakeholders to formulate a policy that improves health care provision and access for refugee populations.


Keywords


Refugees; health policy; Interim Federal Health Program; stakeholder analysis

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17269/cjph.108.5553