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Final Public Charge Rule Jeopardizes Health and Well-Being of Our Communities

OAKLAND, CA, August 12, 2019 – The California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (CAPH) is gravely concerned with the Trump Administration’s release of the final public charge rule. Under the rule, some immigrants and their families who access public benefits in which they are legally entitled to receive, could face adverse consequences when applying to change their immigration status.

“The final public charge rule marks a significant and harmful departure from current practice, crippling the health of our communities,” said Sarah Hesketh, Senior Vice President of External Affairs at CAPH.

Previously, public charge determinations only considered cash assistance and government-funded institutionalized long-term care. Under the final rule, receipt of public benefits such as Medicaid (called Medi-Cal in California), housing subsidies, and food assistance will be factored into public charge determinations. Certain immigrants who are considered to be a public charge could be denied entry into the U.S. or legal permanent residency (e.g., obtain a green card).

California’s public health care systems remain committed to serving all individuals, regardless of immigration status, or any other circumstance. For many immigrants, public health care systems are considered a safe place to receive care and life-saving services. However, given the expanded definition of public charge, many individuals and families, beyond those directly affected, may be too afraid to receive health care or other social support services.

“We anticipate far reaching consequences in our ability to effectively care for our immigrant communities – likely resulting in individuals and family members forgoing key preventive services and delaying care until health issues become more severe,” said Hesketh. “Not only is this harmful to individuals and costly to our health systems, it is detrimental to the broader well-being of our communities.”

In addition to public health care systems, these changes could have a significant economic impact across California more generally, costing billions of dollars in lost productivity.

The final rule is expected to take effect on October 15, 2019, absent legal action.

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About the California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems

The California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (CAPH) represents California’s 21 public health care systems, which include county-affiliated systems and the five University of California academic medical centers. Together, these systems form the core of the state’s health care safety net. Though accounting for just 6% of hospitals in the state, public health care systems operate in 15 counties where more than 80% of the state’s population lives. They provide 40% of all hospital care to California’s remaining uninsured and 35% of all hospital care to Medi-Cal beneficiaries in the communities they serve. These 21 health care systems serve 2.85 million patients annually, operate more than 200 outpatient clinic facilities, and provide more than 10 million outpatient visits each year. They operate more than half of California’s top-level burn and trauma centers, and train more than half of all new doctors in hospitals across the state. For more information, visit www.caph.org.

Media Contact:

Megan Renfrew
Director of Communications