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Drastic Expansion of Public Charge Regulations Compromise Access to Women’s Health Care

September 23, 2018

Washington, D.C.Lisa Hollier, M.D., M.P.H., president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), released the following statement in response to the administration’s proposed regulatory changes to alter the longstanding policy on how and whether immigrants can be classified as a “public charge:” 

“The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) opposes the proposed changes to the definition and scope of “public charge,” and has serious concerns that it will intimidate and dissuade patients and their families from seeking necessary health care. Comprehensive, preventive care is essential to every person, regardless of their country of origin or immigration status. Punishing individuals for accessing necessary health care will lead to poorer outcomes for our patients. 

“The mission of every women’s health care provider is to provide timely access to health care. These changes put a governmental barrier between doctors and their patients, as well as their families. When determining the best course of care, no clinician should have to consider whether they are also jeopardizing an individual’s immigration status. It is an unnecessary burden and intrusion on the patient-provider relationship.

“When immigrant women experience barriers to health care, including prenatal care, they experience poorer health outcomes. Since the rumor of a proposed change to the “public charge” was publicized last year, there have already been reports of lower rates of prenatal care visits from immigrant women, as well as reports of immigrant women returning needed breast pumps to hospitals for fear of punitive actions, including deportation and separation from their families. Creating these ultimatums for patients is neither evidence based, nor in the best interest of our patients. 

“ACOG urges the administration to reject these changes, and work toward immigration solutions that do not compromise any patient’s access to safe, timely and affordable care.”

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of more than 58,000 members, ACOG strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. www.acog.org

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
409 12th Street SW, Washington, DC  20024-2188 | Mailing Address: PO Box 70620, Washington, DC 20024-9998