New Trump rule set to take effect Nov. 3
IN a new controversy that combines two of the hottest-button issues — immigration and healthcare — President Donald Trump on Friday, October 4 announced that incoming immigrants will be turned away if they can’t prove they’re covered by health insurance or have the means to afford insurance.
The latest in a consistent to-do list of immigration restrictions that says immigrants are required to show that they have or can afford health insurance within 30 days of entering the country.
Trump provided the current political battle over healthcare as a reason for the proclamation. In other words, the government shouldn’t exacerbate a problem by risking increasing the pool of uninsured, the president said.
“While our healthcare system grapples with the challenges caused by uncompensated care, the United States government is making the problem worse by admitting thousands of [immigrants] who have not demonstrated any ability to pay for their healthcare costs,” the proclamation noted. “Immigrants who enter this country should not further saddle our healthcare system, and subsequently American taxpayers with higher costs.”
The White House bolstered the argument by saying that the proclamation protects “health care benefits for American citizens,” fitting squarely in the president’s “America First” promise.
Trump said that the ban only applies to people seeking to enter the U.S. with an immigrant visa and does not apply to refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied minors, Iraqis or Afghans seeking a Special Immigrant Visa or those on temporary visitor visas.
Employer-based or individually-purchased insurance would be permitted per the new order, and it can be for long- or short-term coverage. But it can’t be through the Affordable Care Act, which both the GOP and the Trump Administration have been fighting to tear down.
“They will need health insurance to be in the country legally [and] the only way they may be able to afford coverage is with ACA subsidies. But if they buy insurance with ACA subsidies, it won’t count as insurance under the proclamation,” Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation explained.
Immigrants who are on Medicaid would also not qualify.
Throughout his presidency, Trump has made cutting both legal and illegal immigration programs and processes a priority. The border crisis, his plans to cut family reunification programs and the controversy surrounding the 2017 termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program have colored the 45th president’s first three years
This new rule comes at the heels of the Trump administration’s controversial decision to change the public charge rule which says that incoming immigrants may be turned away if there’s a strong likelihood they’ll require food stamps, subsidized housing and other government assistance programs. That rule is set to take effect on Tuesday, October 15.
“People who come here shouldn’t immediately be on public assistance. We should bring people here who contribute and not drain resources,” a White House official told POLITICO.
As with the public charge rule, immigrant rights organizations decried the proclamation, calling it yet another attack on the immigrant communities and installation of fear that prevents lawful immigrants from seeking assistance. (According to the White House’s written proclamation, “lawful immigrants are about three times more likely than U.S. citizens to lack health insurance.”)
The National Immigration Law Center responded in a tweet, saying, the proclamation is nothing but a way to “distract” from the president’s recent scandals involving foreign leaders that have led to a House impeachment inquiry.
“Trump is yet again pointing the finger at immigrant communities to distract us from his scandals. This latest attack on immigrants is not good for hospitals, it’s not good for patients [and] it’s not good for the health and well-being of communities across the country,” the NILC said.
Democrats also denounced the proclamation, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who has endorsed universal health care, tweeted on Oct. 5, “The United States doesn’t ever even offer guaranteed healthcare for *its own citizens,* yet wants to demand it from people of other national origins. Hypocrisy, xenophobia, and barbarism all in one policy.” (Klarize Medenilla/AJPress)