Colorado health system urges immigrants to remain in healthcare programs 


Mountain Family Health Centers, a Federally Qualified Health Center based in Glenwood Springs, Colo., is urging immigrant patients to continue to seek healthcare services despite a new public charge rule that could disqualify immigrants for permanent residency if they use Medicaid, according to the Aspen Daily News

The public charge rule goes into effect in October. It will allow the federal government to deny permanent residency to immigrants who have used public benefits for 12 months or more in a 36-month period. Benefits that count toward this rule include Medicaid and food stamps. Opponents in the medical community say the rule could discourage the use of Medicaid and lead people to delay care.

Mountain Family Health Centers' patient population is about 50 percent Latino. While it doesn't know patients' immigrant status, it says it has seen its uninsured rate rise recently, according to the report. The health system offers patients financial assistance in the form of a sliding fee scale, and that has no effect on the public charge rule, according to the report. However, Mountain Family Health Centers officials are concerned patients may not know that and will delay or avoid necessary care due to fears about the new rule.

"The fears are already existing and have been for some time. We feel it's a really important issue, not only for the population that it's really putting its thumb on, but also for that economic viability," Garry Schalla, development director for Mountain Family Health Centers, told Aspen Daily News. 

Read the full story here.


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