The AAMC joined with five other hospital associations Sept. 11 in an amicus brief filed in California in support of the request by the City and County of San Francisco and County of Santa Clara to issue a preliminary injunction to stop implementation of the Public Charge Rule [see Washington Highlights, Aug. 14]. The rule makes significant changes to the standards by which legal immigrants will be considered “public charges” and may be subject to deportation.
While the Department of Homeland Security, which issued the rule, says that it supports a policy of self-sufficiency, the brief shows that this is not the case. The rule will have a “chilling effect” as legal immigrants and their children decide not to use public benefits to which they are legally entitled for fear that this may lead to deportation. Immigrants who are entitled to Medicaid will likely forgo enrollment, thus not receiving preventive care and meaning that they will be sicker when they finally seek care. These individuals also will experience increased rates of poverty and housing instability and see impaired development of their children. The brief notes, “These harms to health constitute precisely the kind of irreparable harm warranting a preliminary injunction.”
The harm also extends to hospitals that will be faced with treating sicker patients for whom there will be no compensation for the care provided. This financial harm will reduce the resources that hospitals need to serve their patients and communities.