“Preventive care is more cost-effective than visits to the emergency room,'' explained Marivi Wright, Community Partnership Manager at The Players Center for Health at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. Yet the changes to public charge immigration rules which have been making headlines in recent months and went into effect on February 24, 2020 have created immense fear and confusion that will ultimately prove quite costly.
Immigrant parents with legal status fear they are at a crossroads. “They believe they have to choose between the health of their children and the fear and uncertainty that applying for medical assistance could have on their immigration status or worse, flag them for deportation” Marivi continued.
“I had a family that felt forced to make the agonizing decision between healthcare and their immigration status, when their 5-year-old daughter needed critical cancer care for leukemia“ described Tamico Spears, Community Outreach Coordinator at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. Despite the palpable fear that their legal immigration status could possibly be thwarted, they needed help with the medical bills to continue the lifesaving cancer treatment their daughter needed to survive.
In another case, the parents of a newborn decided not to apply for Medicaid for their new child despite the fact that he was a U.S. citizen, and they had legal status. They were afraid that in doing so they might be flagged and denied their Green Cards. However, when the baby became sick with a high fever a few months after his birth, he had to be rushed to the emergency room for medical care. The family had no health insurance. Like too many others, this family did not know that Medicaid for children under age 21 and CHIP, the Child Health Insurance Program, do not have a negative impact on immigration applications under the public charge rule.