White House Bars Uninsured Immigrants from Entry to US
President Trump last week released a proclamation suspending entry for some immigrants who cannot prove that they will have health coverage or the means to pay for it without assistance within 30 days of their arrival. Under the proclamation, immigrants who “will financially burden the U.S. healthcare system” by remaining uninsured or relying on public health programs such as Medicaid or government-subsidized coverage will be denied a visa. The National Council remains strongly opposed to policies such as this that prevent individuals from receiving health care and assistance to which they are legally entitled.
WHAT DOES THE PROCLAMATION DO?
The White House laid out its criteria for who will or will not become a “financial burden” in the proclamation. It is important to note that the new standards do not apply to every immigrant in every situation. For example, immigrants whose parents are United States citizens or individuals seeking asylum will not be subject to these requirements.
Approved health insurance under the proclamation include the following:
- Employee-sponsored health plans, including association health plans. The National Council stands opposed to association health plans on the grounds that they are exempt from many consumer protections included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and in turn widen the coverage gap of mental health and addiction services.
- Short-term limited duration plans that are effective for at least 364 days. The National Council opposes short-term limited duration plans as they undermine coverage for mental health and substance use treatment, and can leave individuals with unaffordable medical bills that can jeopardize their health and financial security.
- Unsubsidized health plans acquired through state health exchanges. In order to qualify to buy health insurance through an exchange without being eligible for subsidies, a household has to have income over 400 percent of the federal poverty line. For a family of four, they must make over $103,000 per year to acquire an unsubsidized plan.
This proclamation comes on the heels of other policy changes that have made it more difficult for individuals to enter the United States and receive supports for their health and well-being. For example, in August the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final rule on “public charge” determinations that forces many lawful immigrants to choose between meeting their basic needs or keeping their families together in this country. These policies unfairly create barriers for individuals pursuing a better, healthier life for themselves and their families.