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Association Comments on Revised Public Charge Definition

In a Nov. 12 letter to the Department of State (DOS), America’s Essential Hospitals expressed concern that broadening the definition of public charge would harm the nation’s health care system, vulnerable patients, and state and local economies.

The letter was sent in response to an interim final rule that expands the definition of public charge used by consular officials in evaluating visa applications. The rule intends to align the department’s definition with the Department of Homeland Security public charge final rule, which is subject to litigation and was temporarily put on hold by five federal courts.

In its comments, America’s Essential Hospitals encouraged DOS not to finalize the definition because the new definition:

  • promulgates an unlawful standard and creates two inconsistent definitions for those applying for immigration status;
  • takes effect without the public having a meaningful opportunity to comment on or prepare for the impact of the changes;
  • will deter millions of vulnerable people from seeking health care;
  • would strain hospital budgets and local and state economies;
  • includes health care benefits and would therefore undermine public health efforts;
  • will discourage eligible individuals from enrolling in public benefits programs, undercutting existing laws that determine eligibility for public benefits; and
  • will be administratively burdensome for providers and state and local agencies, and runs counter to the Department of Health and Human Services’ efforts to reduce regulatory burden on providers.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at or 202.585.0127 with questions.


About the Author

Rachel Schwartz is a former policy associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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