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Internists Say Court's Decision on Public Charge Rule Jeopardizes Health Care for Immigrants

Statement attributable to:
Robert McLean, MD, MACP
President, American College of Physicians

Washington, DC (January 28, 2020) — The American College of Physicians (ACP) is deeply disappointed that the Supreme Court decided to allow the Administration’s "public charge" rule to take effect in most of the United States while legal challenges play out. ACP is greatly concerned that this decision will jeopardize the health of children, their families, and create barriers to care for legal immigrants.

As a physician, I fear that with the changes to the public charge rule in place patients will forgo necessary care rather than face the threat of deportation or family separation, putting their own health and the health of their communities at risk.  I worry that patients who are legal immigrants will opt out of health care services for themselves and their children— avoiding critical preventive services and leaving urgent medical conditions untreated.

ACP has been on record opposing the changes to greatly expand the scope of the public charge rule.  When the changes were first proposed ACP wrote to the Department of Homeland Security to say that the changes “would undermine the physician-patient relationship and disrupt care continuity, and it is antithetical to the College’s mission to ensure meaningful access to health care for our patients. The rule will have negative impacts that will reverberate across populations, including U.S. citizens and legal residents.”  That is why just last week ACP and other major physician groups filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case, opposing the new rule and outlining the harms that it would cause if it went into effect.

ACP asserts that immigration policy should not interfere with the patient-physician relationship, and that health policy should not foster discrimination against any patient, regardless of immigration status.  We will continue to urge the courts to issue a final ruling that the public charge rule is unlawful and unconstitutional.  At the same time, we also urge Congress to act to block its implementation.

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About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 159,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Contact: Jackie Blaser, (202) 261-4572, jblaser@acponline.org