Friday, December 7th, 2018
The Honorable Kirstjen M. Nielsen
Secretary of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528
Dear Secretary Nielsen:
For over 30 years, Children’s Health Fund has been on the front lines delivering medical care to vulnerable children and advocating in support of programs and policies to ensure that all children have access to comprehensive, high-quality health care. Our National Network of 27 health care programs, spanning urban and rural locales in 16 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, provides us with a unique vantage point to observe the pivotal impact of policies that erode health access and diminish participation in programs that can lift children up and help them succeed in life.
As an organization committed to ensuring access to high quality health care for all children in America, and on behalf of our Network partners and their patients, Children’s Health Fund strongly urges the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to withdraw its plans to amend the Public Charge as doing so would negatively impact the health and wellbeing of millions of children in America.
Children in immigrant families are amongst the most vulnerable pediatric populations in the United States and they comprise the largest remaining cohort of children lacking insurance coverage. According to the California Health Care Foundation, an estimated 4.8 million children living in families with at least one noncitizen adult need medical attention. If the rule is passed, 700,000 to 1.7 million of these children could be disenrolled from CHIP or Medicaid, key programs that enable children to obtain needed health services.
By deterring parents from seeking, enrolling and maintaining critical participation of children in programs that support their health and well-being for fear of exposing the child or other family members to sanction, the proposed changes threaten to erode hard-won accomplishments in promoting children’s health. If this proposal is enacted, those who are most vulnerable will, unconscionably, be forced to face additional burdens and challenges. Such changes would further undermine the already tenuous access immigrant families have to the medical and nutrition resources their children need for healthy development and to reach their full potential.
Children’s Health Fund strongly urges withdrawal of the proposed changes in public charge policy and recommends that the proposed changes not be instituted.