AHIP says public charge rule will have ‘serious negative consequences’

The industry’s foremost health insurance lobby is pushing back against the Trump administration’s proposed “public charge” rule that it says could have huge economic consequences.

In comments submitted to the Department of Homeland Security, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) said it has “serious concerns” about the rule that would consider whether someone applying for permanent residency is likely to enroll in public programs like Medicaid, Medicare Part D and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). 

The group said the rule would lead to poorer health outcomes, shifting the cost of that care to all Americans. The proposed rule flies in the face of the Department of Health and Human Services’ stated goal of encouraging a healthy population.

“Based on our industry’s experience, we believe such changes would have serious negative consequences for public health and the U.S. economy, including: sicker people, including seniors and children; weaker communities, resulting from sicker populations and weakened hospital systems; weaker American businesses, resulting from a sicker employee base; and higher taxes, as federal and state costs increase for emergency care and premiums go up for everyone,” AHIP Executive Vice President of Policy and Strategy Keith Fontenot wrote in the letter (PDF).

RELATED: Millions of citizen children could lose coverage due to public charge rule, study says

Fontenot added that the proposed rule includes “only a basic economic analysis” of the changes and warned of the “strong potential for unanticipated negative consequences.

A recent analysis from the Urban Institute estimates that the rule could impact as many as 6.8 million children currently enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP that have at least one noncitizen parent. Recent data from Georgetown University Health Policy Institute reported an increase in uninsured children for the first time in a decade. Researchers blamed Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric for the decline.

Kaiser Family Foundation estimates between 2 million and 5 million people would unenroll from Medicaid or CHIP if the rule is finalized.