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NACHC Statement  Regarding Biden Administration Dismissal of Public Charge Rule

 Contact: Amy Simmons Farber 202 309 0338

We applaud recent actions by the Biden Administration to formally remove the harmful “Public Charge” rule that was put into place by the prior Administration in 2019. Community Health Centers, led by our strong advocates at the California Primary Care Association (CPCA) and the Association for Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO), have fought against Public Charge for a host of reasons, not the least of which is that it puts the health and well-being of immigrant families at risk. Our argument then, as it is now, is that everyone benefits when there is unfettered access to services, health care, and benefits. As representatives of health centers across the country and the 30 million patients they serve, we pledge to work together and with national leaders to advance health equity and ensure that everyone, no matter who they are or where they are from, has equal access to quality and affordable health care in a safe space, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. These democratic ideals of inclusion and access allow individuals to contribute to their communities and reach their full potential.

Through the years, health centers and other safety-net health care providers have seen the chilling effects of policy developments around the public charge doctrine. Following the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, a climate of fear and confusion was created among immigrants, preventing them from enrolling in critical programs and keeping them from seeking medical care.  As in the past, the end result of the most recent policy would have led to further worsening health outcomes and more complex, costlier health services for patients, their families, and their communities. More importantly, the rule also erected a barrier between health care providers and their patients.

We thank the Biden Administration for their leadership and join with immigrant advocacy groups and other community-based organizations who have pledged to help dispel the fear and confusion that this policy has created over the past few years.  Though we know we must remain ever vigilant for policy changes that may affect our patients in a detrimental manner, this is a very positive step in helping our friends and neighbors begin to feel safe in their own communities once again — and continue to receive the care and compassion they deserve.