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Public Health - News

Posted on: January 28, 2020

Health Is for All People: JCPH Opposes Federal Public Charge Rule

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The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday ruled to lift the nationwide, court-ordered block of the Public Charge Rule. This move will allow the Rule to take effect, though it is not the final word in the case. Other lawsuits challenging Public Charge are making their way through the court system.

Under the Public Charge Rule, the Department of Homeland Security can now block citizenship to individuals entering the U.S. or applying for a green card based on their financial status and/or use of specific public benefits, including cash assistance like TANF, government-funded long-term institutional care such as nursing home care, Medicaid (with the exception of emergency Medicaid), SNAP benefits (food stamps) and public housing assistance.

It is important to note that not all public benefits are affected by Public Charge, nor will all immigrants receiving benefits be affected. Some public health-led programs, like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) are not included in a Public Charge consideration. In addition, most immigrants who qualify and are receiving benefits from the impacted public assistance programs are not subject to the Public Charge Rule because these programs already have strict eligibility requirements.

The complicated nature of the rule is problematic — Public Charge has resulted in fear in individuals and families immigrating to the U.S. as well as many who have already immigrated. Moreover, the Rule has the effect of discouraging the use of all government programs. The Public Charge Rule may separate immigrants from their communities and families and may increase anti-immigration attitudes in this country.

For Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH), Public Charge is in direct conflict with our mission. We believe in providing the best services and programs possible to our community, regardless of race, ethnicity, country of origin or citizenship, and believe doing so helps to protect the health and wellbeing of all our residents and visitors.

“Equitable provision of services has been a key part of the identity of local public health agencies in Colorado since the mid-1940s when they started forming across the metro area, and this duty was strengthened by the Public Health Act of 2008, which ensures that every county in the state has a public health agency overseeing the health and wellbeing of its residents,” said Dr. Mark B. Johnson, Executive Director at JCPH. “But it’s not just about what we are mandated to do. It is also about what we should do.”

We believe all people should have a right to quality health care. All people should have food for themselves and their loved ones. All people should have a roof over their heads. All people should be able to access programs to help their children. Anything that makes it more difficult for people to fulfill these basic human needs is regrettable and immoral.

Many of our clients already experience the fear and isolation resulting from intolerance. JCPH stands firmly against racism and hatred which may be stoked by public policies such as Public Charge.  

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