UPDATE: Aug. 14, 2019: Two counties in northern California are suing the Trump administration in an attempt to block the public charge rule, arguing it "will worsen the health and well-being of the Counties' residents, increase risks to the public health, undermine the Counties' health and safety-net systems, and inflict significant financial harm on the Counties."
- Healthcare groups on Monday railed against a Trump administration policy that will make it more difficult for legal immigrants on Medicaid and other public safety net programs to obtain permanent status.
- The final "public charge" rule from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would affect immigrants legally on such programs for more than a year. The rule could push between 2 million and 5 million people out of Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, according to an estimate from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
- The American Hospital Association called the policy "misguided and harmful" and said it creates barriers to care for those who need it. "Access to nutrition aid, housing support and other programs that address the social determinants of health would also be jeopardized," the group said in a statement. "No one should have to fear obtaining needed services and medical care."
Provider groups and patient advocates were quick to condemn the final rule, saying it will increase already wide health disparities in the U.S.
The new rules will not apply to pregnant women and children, but advocates say the change will likely to act as a general deterrent for those groups and families fearing deportation. It creates a chilling effect, Federation of American Hospitals CEO Chip Kahn said in a statement.
"Many eligible people won't sign up for health insurance coverage, like Medicaid, over fears it could hurt their or their loved ones' immigration status," he said. "I hope the administration will reconsider these damaging changes to the public charge regulation."
DHS, however, said disenrollment by people not subject to the policy would be unwarranted and it "will not alter this rule to account for such unwarranted choices."
A study published last month in JAMA Pediatrics found that 8.3 million children receiving benefits from Medicaid, CHIP or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are at risk of losing that coverage under the new rule. Of those, 5.5 million have a specific medical need. The report authors concluded the rule "may contribute to child deaths and future disability."