Washington State Safety Net Providers Oppose New “Public Charge” Policy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASESeptember 23, 2018                                        
Susan Ward (206) 786-0094 / susan@teamsoapbox.com

Washington’s largest primary care delivery system for Medicaid patients asserts policy creates a health risk

SEATTLE—The Washington Association of Community and Migrant Health Centers (WACMHC), and the Community Health Network of Washington (CHNW), along with its subsidiary non-profit managed care company, Community Health Plan of Washington (CHPW) are strongly opposed to a new proposed federal rule that would make it harder for legal immigrants to stay in the U.S. if they or family members have used certain public benefits, including Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and subsidized insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

“For a parent to be penalized for protecting their child’s health is dangerous. This rule will have the direct effect of keeping people, including kids, from getting necessary preventive and non-emergency care. When conditions go untreated, we see more emergency room visits, ultimately resulting in sicker communities and higher costs. That’s not smart policy,” stated Leanne Berge, CEO of CHPW and CHNW.

Bob Marsalli, CEO of WACMHC, said, “Our community health centers are already seeing worried patients shy away from necessary services for fear it will jeopardize their future. And they’re choosing not to enroll in health insurance even if they qualify. We don’t want our neighbors and classmates saying no to health care.”

Community health centers see this new proposed rule as already having harmful consequences on the low-income patients they serve.

Adds Marsalli, “The people affected by this rule are working in our communities, contributing to the economy, and trying to support their families. This rule makes it harder for them to do that, negatively affecting their wellbeing and the wellbeing of their communities.”    

Continues Berge, “Legal immigrants who followed the appropriate process are having the rules changed on them midstream. We want people to let their members of Congress know that’s not acceptable.”

Together, CHNW, CHPW, and WACMHC are urging people to express their concerns about this regulation as soon as the 60-day public comment period is announced.

About Community Health Network of Washington (CHNW) Since 1992, Community Health Network of Washington has served as a statewide system of community health centers that works to ensure all Washingtonians have access to medical care and health insurance coverage. From the provision of medical care, to IT solutions, to advocacy at the public policy level, CHNW works to improve individuals’ and families’ access to health care, by overcoming barriers including geographic location, insurance status and income.

About Community Health Plan of Washington (CHPW) Founded in 1992 by a network of community and migrant health centers in Washington State, Community Health Plan of Washington is a not-for-profit health plan. The mission of CHPW is to deliver accessible managed care services that meet the needs and improve the health of our communities and to make managed care participation beneficial for community-responsive providers.

About Washington Association of Community & Migrant Health Centers (WACMHC) The Washington Association of Community & Migrant Health Centers is a non-profit organization formed in 1985 to advocate on behalf of the low-income, uninsured, and underserved populations of Washington State served by community health centers. These health centers serve over 1,000,000 Washington residents with preventive and primary health care and enabling services at more than 250 clinic sites across the state.