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The nation’s acting Defense Secretary is under investigation for promoting Boeing, his former employer. Also on the Thursday rundown: The Trump administration’s spending blueprint being called a “bully budget.” Plus, a call for the feds to protect consumers from abusive lenders.

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Health Advocates Cry Foul Over Trump Adminstration's Public Charge Rule

The public can submit comments on a new proposal that would allow the Department of Homeland Security to deny legal status to families that access programs including Medicaid. Comments must be received before Dec. 10. (U.S. Navy)
The public can submit comments on a new proposal that would allow the Department of Homeland Security to deny legal status to families that access programs including Medicaid. Comments must be received before Dec. 10. (U.S. Navy)
November 8, 2018

DENVER – Health care advocates are warning that a new rule proposed by the Trump administration could effectively block children's access to health, dental and mental services.

The rule would make it easier to deny immigrants legal status by expanding the definition of what it means to be a public charge, or dependent on government programs.

Sarah McAfee, director of communications at Center for Health Progress, says the move already is having a chilling effect, and notes many families with U.S. citizen children have stopped accessing health care.

"Parents are afraid to enroll in any of these public benefit programs, and so it is already having an impact on children's health, which has long-term impacts on their future," she states.

McAfee says parents' and children's health are inextricably linked, because children are far more likely to get care if their parents have coverage.

She adds it's critical for children to have regular access to pediatricians and says early life relationships with caregivers help lay a foundation for healthy development as children get older.

Proponents of the rule change argue it will promote immigrant self-sufficiency and save taxpayers money.

A recent Cato Institute report found that native born Americans are more likely to tap government programs than immigrants.

McAfee says safety net programs such as Medicaid are important investments, because when health care needs go unmet, it makes it a lot harder for children to grow up to be healthy, contributing adults.

"Immigrants contribute enormous amounts to our culture, to our economy, to our communities,” she stresses. “They pay much more in tax dollars than they use in public benefits."

The public charge rule would primarily impact documented immigrants and their families, as people without documentation are not eligible for most government programs.

McAfee says her group and others are encouraging people concerned about the rule's potential impact on children to submit comments at Regulations.gov. Comments must be received before Dec. 10.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO