AAMC Statement on Proposed Changes to Public Charge Rule

AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, issued the following statement in response to proposed changes to how and whether immigrants can be classified as a “public charge,” which were released by the Department of Homeland Security on September 22:

“The AAMC and the nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals are opposed to any policy that discourages people from pursuing medical care to which they are legally entitled. The proposed new rule would create a system where individuals are penalized for using health programs for which they legally qualify and could cause them to forgo crucial medical care, bringing with it all the health consequences that could follow.

Teaching hospitals treat a disproportionate share of Medicaid patients, and we know from firsthand experience that access to care is key to insuring that the nation’s patients have the stability and continuity of care that leads to better health outcomes. Forgoing necessary care can turn treatable illnesses into more complex conditions that are more expensive and difficult to treat. While this can be disastrous for patients, it also can impact the stability of hospitals that are forced to shoulder the burden of increased costs and uncompensated care, which increases costs for the entire health care system.

In addition to restrictions on Medicaid usage, the proposed rule also could also impede access to housing and food, two social determinants of health, making existing health disparities even worse for many underserved populations. The nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals are dedicated to achieving health equity by improving population and community health and by making health care safer and more accessible, affordable, and equitable for all.

We urge the Department of Homeland Security not to finalize this rule that seeks to overturn decades of settled policy.”

The Association of American Medical Colleges is a not-for-profit association dedicated to transforming health care through innovative medical education, cutting-edge patient care, and groundbreaking medical research. Its members are all 154 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, including 51 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers; and more than 80 academic societies. Through these institutions and organizations, the AAMC serves the leaders of America’s medical schools and teaching hospitals and their more than 173,000 full-time faculty members, 89,000 medical students, 129,000 resident physicians, and more than 60,000 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in the biomedical sciences.