San Francisco Marin Medical Society Blog

PROTECTING ACCESS TO CARE: Public Comments Are Being Accepted on Proposed Public Charge Regulation

The United States Department of Homeland Security has proposed regulations that would allow the federal government to consider the use of health, nutrition and other non-cash programs when determining if an immigrant to the United States constitutes a public charge. A “public charge” is defined as an individual who is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence. Legal immigrants and visa holders who are determined to become a public charge face additional immigration barriers and may be denied admission to the U.S. or lawful permanent resident status.

The AMA and CMA have raised concerns that the proposed policy change would have a chilling effect on families needing to access health care services, which will compromise the public health and ultimately increase health care costs overall. If enacted, these changes would reduce participation in Medi-Cal and other federal assistance programs by immigrant families. AMA and CMA policy support everyone’s access, regardless of immigration status, to medically necessary, affordable, and quality health care.

   An article by SFMMS pediatrician Heyman Oo, MD on the immigration issue as it applies to health is in the current SFMMS journal here:


SFMMS members are encouraged to consider submitting public comments in opposition to the proposed regulations. 


Opportunity to Submit Public Comments

The Department of Homeland Security is accepting public comments until December 10, 2018. Click here to submit a formal comment; click here to access the full proposed public charge regulations.


For convenience, the Oakland-based Public Health Institute, a respected advocacy group, has developed a message on this topic that is easy to sign onto:

Click here for link


For more information:


New Fact Sheet: Knowing Your Rights and Responsibilities

As part of “Promoting Open Conversations about the Health Consequences of Immigration Policies,” the California Academy of Family Physicians has produced a new fact sheet outlining physicians’ rights and responsibilities. Members are encouraged to review this information before responding to enforcement actions by immigration officials and interactions with law enforcement. Please click here to access the fact sheet.


Questions?  Steve Heilig at the SFMMS:

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