What does Coronavirus mean for the public charge rule?

March 5, 2020 Dr. Rhonda Medows

What does Coronavirus mean for the public charge rule?

At Providence, we believe health is a human right. We are steadfast in our advocacy to preserve and increase access to care. That is why we opposed a regulatory change expanding ways that federal authorities could deny certain immigration applications based on use of public benefits such as Medicaid and food assistance. This ‘public charge’ rule will create greater health disparities at a time when we should be improving  access to care and working to improve health and wellbeing.

In this video Dr. Medows provides insights on the public charge rule along with guidance to those who may be impacted. Watch now.

The rule went into effect on February, 24 and it happened to coincide with the first instance of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) community transmission in California.  During a public health emergency involving a highly contagious new infectious disease, we need to improve communication, prevention and treatment for ALL people. Viruses don’t discriminate.

“Our biggest concern is that with this rule being implemented locally, people will fear that it’s just a tool to identify them for deportation and avoid seeking care,” says Dr. Rhonda Medows, president of population health at Providence. “They may incorrectly think they are prevented from seeking help from Medicaid, housing and nutrition services even if the new rule doesn’t apply to them."

The rule is now being enforced and there are misunderstandings about which groups of legal immigrants are affected. However at Providence, it does not change how we care for our patients.

“This conversation is about individuals being fearful of coming forward and seeking services early. We do not want people to fall between the cracks and not receive help with their health and wellbeing," says Dr. Medows.

The best advice that we can provide for individuals who are concerned about being affected by this rule is to be your own advocate.

As Dr. Medows said, “Advocate for yourself and your children. Ask questions about your enrollment or renewal. Don’t just assume you are no longer eligible. Get help from local community services if you need help understanding the new green card and visa rules.”

To learn more about public charge, visit Protecting Immigrant Families.

To receive updated information on Coronavirus, visit CDC or your local department of health.  

About the Author

Dr. Rhonda Medows

Rhonda M. Medows, MD, is President of Population Health Management at Providence, one of the largest nonprofit health systems in the United States, and CEO of Ayin Health Solutions, a population health management company launched by Providence.  She leads Providence’s Medicaid, Medicare, Commercial, and employer population health strategies, as well as the organization’s value-based care, health plans, population health informatics, government programs, care management, contracting, and community health partnerships.  Dr. Medows has extensive healthcare industry background in both the private sector and government health programs including Medicare and Medicaid. She serves on the US HHS Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Council (PTAC) focused on developing new alternative payment models.

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