Our state is home to nearly 11 million immigrants, more than any other in the nation, and immigrants account for 28% of California’s population. Policies that sow fear or confusion among our immigrant communities are antithetical and detrimental to the mission of hospitals: Caring for the sick and healing the injured, regardless of a patient’s ethnicity or citizenship status.
That’s why, nearly four years ago, CHA joined with Health Access to pen an op-ed in opposition of a proposed “public charge” rule, which had a chilling effect on immigrants seeking health services like those provided via Medi-Cal.
Last month, the Biden administration proposed a new regulation that would codify a limited definition of public charge, meaning immigrants and their families can seek medical care, including testing and treatment for COVID-19, without fearing immigration consequences.
In our October letter of support for the precursor to the rule proposed last month, we reiterated something hospital leaders know very well: that the health and well-being of the people we serve are at risk when community members forgo basic needs such as food, housing, and health care services out of fear for their immigration status. People who avoid seeking necessary medical care have poorer health outcomes.
The proposed Department of Homeland Security rule would enable immigrants to receive health care and other types of assistance without fear of reprisal. In addition, the codification of this rule would make it more challenging for future administrations to alter. Comments are due April 25, and we will share our letter of support once it is sent.
To continue to advance a more just and equitable society, regulations, laws, policies, and practices at all levels — federal, state, and local — must support and enhance the mission of all hospitals, not impede it.