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Internists Urge DHS to Prioritize Health of All U.S. Residents

Statement attributable to:
Ana María López, MD, MPH, MACP
President, American College of Physicians

Washington, DC (December 11, 2018) – The American College of Physicians (ACP) strongly opposes the changes that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is proposing to the public charge policy because they would put the health of children, their families, and public health at risk.

ACP is concerned that the proposed rule would lead patients to opt out of health care coverage for themselves and their children—leaving medical conditions undiagnosed and untreated. We fear that patients will avoid getting the care they need rather than face the threat of deportation or family separation, jeopardizing their own health and the health of their communities. Additionally, we are afraid that the proposed rule could deny entry for those seeking to immigrate to the U.S., deny visas, or result in deportation for individuals seeking basic health care services for themselves and their families. ACP detailed our concerns in comments provided to DHS.

In our 2011 position paper, National Immigration Policy and Access to Health Care, ACP called for a national immigration policy that recognizes the need to control U.S. borders, but also provides access to quality health care and protects the public’s health. ACP has a longstanding belief that all residents of the U.S., regardless of residency status, should have access to medical care—especially primary and preventive care and vaccinations against communicable diseases. We are alarmed that the proposed rule would make it increasingly difficult for lawfully-present individuals to access quality health care services, and that it would undermine the patient-physician relationship and disrupt care continuity. This week, ACP signed onto a coalition letter with several other physician and health care groups calling on DHS to recognize that the proposed rule would be detrimental to public health and the financial stability of families. 

In light of the proposed rule, ACP reaffirms that immigration policy should not interfere with physicians’ and other health care professionals’ responsibility to care for patients, and that health policy should not foster discrimination against any patient. We urge DHS to withdraw the proposed rule and make the health of all U.S. residents a priority.

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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 154,000 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: Julie Hirschhorn, (202) 261-4523, jhirschhorn@acponline.org