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Public charge rule is endangering health coverage for U.S.-citizen children

February 21, 2020

Topics: Quote of the Day

By Stan Dorn and Rebecca Dorn
FamiliesUSA, February 21, 2020

Executive Summary

For more than a generation, Democratic and Republican administrations alike held to two core commitments: Children should have the health insurance they need for a good start in life; and immigrant families should be encouraged to seek essential benefits for which they qualify, including health care for their U.S.-citizen children.

The Trump administration has reversed both of these longstanding commitments. Instead of assuring parents that they can safely seek help for their families, the administration’s public charge rules, which become effective on February 24, deny lawful immigration status when families seek or obtain nutrition assistance, housing, or health care for which they qualify. That is one important reason why, for the first time in decades, children are now losing rather than gaining health insurance.

This report is the first to analyze Census Bureau data documenting recent health insurance changes for U.S.-citizen children with immigrant parents. We find that, while children with and without immigrant parents lost insurance from 2016 to 2018, U.S.-citizen children with immigrant parents experienced particularly great harm:

  • Losses in the coverage provided by Medicaid were nearly four times as high for U.S.-citizen children with immigrant parents as for children with native-born parents.
  • Increases in the proportion of children without any insurance whatsoever were nearly twice as high for U.S.-citizen children with immigrant parents as for children with native-born parents.

We also find that 7.8 million U.S.-citizen children with immigrant parents rely on Medicaid to obtain necessary health care. They comprise 22% of all children covered through Medicaid. The administration’s immigration restrictions slated to take effect on February 24 will have the foreseeable effect of causing many of them to lose health coverage.

Numerous parents understandably fear that continuing to participate in Medicaid could risk the entire family’s future by jeopardizing their immigration status. Trusted community groups need resources to educate families about the technical details of these new immigration rules. One critical detail involves the ability of families to safely obtain health coverage for their children. But for a fully effective solution that protects all of these 7.8 million children, Congress must reverse the Administration’s unprecedented and harsh immigration restrictions.

Conclusion

An iconic American invitation inscribed at the Statue of Liberty’s base asks the world to send our country “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” The administration’s new policies sound a very different theme. They deny lawful immigration status based solely on immigrants’ economic prospects, punishing families if they use public benefits for which they qualify. Not only are these policies harming immigrants, they are inflicting collateral damage on some of America’s youngest citizens.

U.S.-citizen children are already being pulled out of essential health programs, as their immigrant parents, concerned about impending restrictions, seek to protect their families’ ability to remain together in the United States. This damage will likely worsen when the administration’s harsh public charge policies become operational on February 24, 2020. Strong public education efforts are essential to shield as many children as possible from harm, but a fully effective solution requires stopping the administration from continuing to implement punitive immigration restrictions that abandon decades of bipartisan consensus.

https://www.familiesusa.org…


Public Charge Update

Immigrant Legal Resource Center

After a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on January 27, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security can now implement their new rule relating to the “public charge” ground of inadmissibility. DHS announced that the rule will go into effect on February 24, 2020.

https://www.ilrc.org/public-charge


Comment:

By Don McCanne, M.D.

“U.S.-citizen children are already being pulled out of essential health programs, as their immigrant parents, concerned about impending restrictions, seek to protect their families’ ability to remain together in the United States.”

That says it all. The current administration has established policies, including intimidation through the public charge rule, that are chasing U.S.-citizen children out of health care programs to which they are entitled. Many of them are ending up with no health insurance at all.

Standing by makes us complicit. Can we really do that?

Do we need to be reminded that the single payer model of Medicare for All would cover all residents, including all children?

Stay informed! Visit www.pnhp.org/qotd to sign up for daily email updates.

About the Commentator, Don McCanne

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Don McCanne is a retired family practitioner who dedicated the 2nd phase of his career to speaking and writing extensively on single payer and related issues. He served as Physicians for a National Health Program president in 2002 and 2003, then as Senior Health Policy Fellow. For two decades, Don wrote "Quote of the Day", a daily health policy update which inspired HJM.

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