Proposed Changes To the Public Charge Rule Will Cause Significant Loss of Health Care Coverage for Florida Children
Pursuant to a draft rule now being considered by the Trump Administration, the federal government would, for the first time, consider use of virtually any publicly funded benefit intended to safeguard the health, nutrition, housing and economic security of America's low income families in making public charge determinations. The range of benefits that could be considered would include Medicaid, CHIP, marketplace subsidies, SSI, state and local government cash assistance programs, public assistance for long- and short-term institutionalized care, state and local subsidized health insurance, WIC, SNAP, LIHEAP, transportation vouchers, public housing assistance, and educational benefits like Head Start.
This represents a major shift from long standing policy in which the only benefits considered in a public charge determination (which could result in denial of lawful permanent residence or entry to the U.S.) are cash assistance or long term institutional care. The Administration's stated intent is to “provide a strong disincentive for the receipt or use of public benefits by aliens, as well as their household members, including U.S. children.”
This brief estimates the potential loss of one particular benefit on a single subset of the potentially impacted Florida population-- citizen children in Florida currently enrolled in Medicaid/CHIP.
Decreased Enrollment in Medicaid/ CHIP Among Florida’s eligible children.
Lawfully present immigrants eligible for Medicaid or CHIP, as well as US citizen children with one or more immigrant parents, are already far more likely to be uninsured than those without immigrant family members based on currently (unfounded) fears of negative immigration consequences. If the draft rule goes forward, this disparity will grow as the new rule explicitly intends to have a chilling impact. The implications for loss of coverage among Florida's children--particularly in South Florida-- are significant. The universe of those impacted is larger than the data provided in this brief because, among other things, significant numbers of eligible children are not currently enrolled, and, as a result of the new rule, their parents will likely not pursue enrollment.
There are currently over 400,000 Florida citizen children enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP with a non-citizen parent. As illustrated in the graph below, half of them live in the Miami metropolitan area which includes: Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties.
If the rate of disenrollment ranges from 15 to 35% among these families, between 46,000 and 107,000 children will lose insurance in Florida overall.
Note: The number of citizen children whose coverage would be adversely impacted under the draft rule is significantly higher than the data above since this analysis does not include an estimate of the children who are currently eligible but not enrolled.
For more information, please visit the Protecting Immigrant Families website. If you have any questions about the public charge rule, please contact Miriam Harmatz, firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like more information about our methodology, please contact Matt Childers, Ph.D., at email@example.com.
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The Florida Health Justice Project, a nonprofit organization, recognizes that access to quality and affordable health care is a human right and engages in comprehensive advocacy to expand healthcare access and promote health equity for vulnerable Floridians.
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