15 October

WATCH: Who gets hurts the most under the new proposal limiting health care for legal, taxpaying immigrants? Harris County taxpayers

Category: Advocacy, Public Affairs, Public Health

By Kevin Nix

Many legal immigrants in Houston – those in the U.S. legally, who play by the rules, have jobs and pay taxes – work for employers who don’t offer health insurance. For decades, they have been able under “public charge” policies to utilize health insurance programs like Medicaid and the Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Now there is a proposal out of Washington, D.C. that would penalize them for playing by the rules and using these health programs. Being enrolled in Medicaid, for instance, would become a negative factor against their chances of obtaining a green card.

The Economic Cost

We are heading to D.C. this week and will be making the financial case against the proposal on Capitol Hill. The Houston Chronicle has more on our trip. Our message to Congress will be on the economic toll:

  • Taxpayers will likely feel the financial impact, either through higher insurance premiums or higher taxes.
  • The amount of uncompensated care will increase as legal immigrants dis-enroll from health insurance programs.
  • Emergency rooms will be flooded with additional uninsured patients.

The Administration admits its “proposed rule would potentially impose new costs on individuals or companies” and that about $19 billion over 10 years would be lost from dis-enrollment or foregone enrollment in public benefit programs.

The proposal currently does not impact children enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). But the Administration has signaled it may include it. So children would be penalized, too, if this proposal sees the light of day.

As you can see in our new video above, we’ve seen a patient who has decided to forgo obtaining health insurance, even though she has nothing to worry about. She wouldn’t even be impacted by the new proposal since she already has a green card. Fear and confusion are powerful, though.

Make your voice heard on this issue by visiting regulations.gov through Dec. 10, 2018.