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Study: California Could Lose Millions As Immigrants Begin Disenrolling From Healthcare Programs

Oralia Sandoval, center, holds her son Benjamin, 6, as she participates in an...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: Oralia Sandoval, center, holds her son Benjamin, 6, as she participates in an Immigrants Day of Action rally, in Sacramento, Calif. Gov., Monday, May 20, 2019.

California could lose more than $500 million in federal funding if the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule goes into effect next month.

The “public charge” rule is meant to discourage immigrants from accessing social services. According to a study released last week by researchers at UCLA and the California Immigrant Policy Center, California could lose millions in federal funding that would have gone to hospitals, labs and other health services in the state that treat immigrants.

Listen to this story by Max Rilvin-Nadler.

The “public charge” rule would make it difficult for immigrants to obtain legal status in the country if they have used, or are likely to use, social services like the state’s federally-funded Medi-Cal program.

Since the rule was first announced last year, enrollment in social services throughout the state’s immigrant population has already begun to decrease. The report found that between 317,000 - 741,000 non-citizen immigrants who are eligible for Medi-Cal will drop from the program once the new public charge rule takes effect on Oct 15.

RELATED: Fear Of New Rule Might Be Impacting Immigrant Applications For Public Benefits

Reported by Max Rivlin-Nadler , Video by Roland Lizarondo

The study’s methodology focused on trends of other times the government has used public benefits against immigrants trying to obtain legal status.

“Families are preemptively dis-enrolling, choosing the opportunity to stay over things like housing and food and basic subsistence, including health care,” said Almas Sayeed, an attorney at the California Immigrant Policy Center.

The report recommends a series of policy proposals to counteract the “chilling” effect of the public charge rule.

One of those recommendations is creating an “express lane,” where people can sign up for multiple services at once at just one location, instead of trying to sign up for each service separately. There, they can have specialists explain the facts about how and when a” public charge” rule would impact them.

The state of California is also suing in federal court over the implementation of the new rule before it is set to take effect next month. A hearing in federal court in San Francisco is scheduled for Oct. 2.

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