Statement by Sister Carol Keehan, DC, President & Chief Executive Office Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA)
September 24, 2018 – We are profoundly disappointed that the Administration has moved forward with proposing a damaging and unnecessary expansion of the definition of “public charge” for determining immigration status. The current definition has been suitable for decades, and the proposed expansion to include enrollment in health care programs such as Medicaid will have a devastating impact on legal immigrants and their families as well as those providing care to them.
If the proposed broadening of public charge determination goes into effect, millions of immigrants here legally could lose their health coverage or choose not to enroll. The ranks of the uninsured will grow, hospitals will face rising costs for uncompensated care and public health will be adversely affected. The proposed rule’s inclusion of other benefit programs such as housing and nutrition assistance also will harm the health of immigrant families and prioritize citizenship for the wealthy over those with fewer means. Such a system would directly contradict both our nation’s history of offering refuge to the poor and oppressed as well as our Gospel mandate to care for the most vulnerable.
The Catholic Health Association of the United States will work during the comment period with our member organizations and our partners in the broader Catholic and hospital communities to highlight the dire consequences of this proposed rule, not just for immigrants and their families but for our nation as a whole. We call for the leaders of our country to rethink this devastating and un-American decision, and to stay with the current definition that reflects the values that built our great nation.