On Tuesday, February 2, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order removing barriers to the legal immigration system, creating a task force to reunite children and families who were separated at the border, and beginning an immediate review of the “public charge” rule among other harmful regulatory actions taken by the previous administration. Children’s Health Fund applauds President Biden’s decision to begin reversing the public charge rule and therefore reducing its negative impact on children’s health.
Not only was the public charge rule discriminatory towards families and children seeking safety in the United States, but it also deterred immigrant and mixed-status families from seeking and maintaining healthcare for children through essential federal programs. By creating a climate of fear and confusion, the rule had a “chilling effect” that severely impacted Latino access to healthcare, including for citizen children.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 726,000 children had lost health insurance since 2017, the largest loss of insurance for children in over two decades. Latino children, many of whom are citizens, were the most impacted, in large part due to this chilling effect.
“Progress must always be forward moving when it comes to healthcare and health access. The public charge executive order took us backwards. We must learn an important lesson from this global pandemic: when it comes to healthcare, creating barriers to access for some, affects us all,” said Senior Director for Policy and Advocacy John Decarvalho for Children’s Health Fund.
Furthering health equity for children in the United States means that all children must be equally protected. Rescinding this discriminatory rule is a crucial step in eliminating harmful barriers to healthcare and ensuring all children and families are protected from the effects of COVID-19.