NMDOH Logo
Home News Why the Federal “Public Charge Rule” will Increase Healthcare Costs and Public Health Risk in New Mexico
David Morgan
575-528-5197 Office
575-649-0754 Mobile

Why the Federal “Public Charge Rule” will Increase Healthcare Costs and Public Health Risk in New Mexico

September 12, 2019 - Cabinet Secretary - Blog

Why the Federal “Public Charge Rule” will Increase Healthcare Costs and Public Health Risk in New Mexico

A new federal rule is scheduled to go into effect October 15, that will reduce access to needed healthcare services, increase healthcare costs, and may precipitate public health risks like infectious childhood disease outbreaks.

You say you haven’t heard about it?

The new federal dictate, called the “Public Charge Rule” specifies that participation in most federally funded benefit programs, including Medicaid, SNAP (formerly called the food stamps program) and income support could be considered as a negative factor in future immigration status decisions. Recall that to qualify for these programs, individuals and families must have a very low-income status. Also recall that there are over 800,000 New Mexicans receiving Medicaid benefits, and 450,000 on food and nutrition support. New Mexico is a rich state in many ways, but we have one of the highest percentages of fiscally poor people in the nation.

Our governor and the Human Services Department have an explicit goal to ensure that every qualified New Mexican receives timely and accurate benefits. We see this as not only a goal, but a responsibility. So, when federal rules are passed that create a situation where qualified New Mexicans fear receiving benefits, we are alarmed.

But when new rules create an environment where frightened parents stop enrolling their eligible children in these programs, then we get really upset!

We fully understand that there are major political differences in views of immigration rights in America, and it is not our goal to address these here. But no one seems to disagree that qualified children ought to receive these benefits. Have we considered the fact that creating a policy to connect the receipt of public benefits to citizenship status will cause disenrollment of children from health insurance and food programs? Is there any New Mexican who doesn’t see that delayed care resulting from lack of insurance, or malnutrition due to lack of food security, will only result in higher health care costs for all of us? And inevitably for those covered by employer sponsored insurance?

And don’t get us started on what happens when tens of thousands of New Mexico kids don’t get immunizations because their parents may rightly or wrongly fear reprisal! We are fortunate to have had only two case of measles here in our state. We don’t want to see a new major outbreak like the ones seen in California or New York, do we?

John Basil Barnhill said, "Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty." For the sake of the health of all New Mexicans, let us not endorse a policy of fear, but rather reach out to ensure that every qualified New Mexican receives the benefits our state provides to ensure personal health, adequate nutrition, and public health.

And to those who are reading this who may be concerned about their own status, do not be afraid. There are many resources available to navigate these complex regulations in a way that will ensure that you and your family can receive the help you need without reprisal. Call us at our Income Support Division general number: 1-800-283-4465 and we will help connect you.

David Scrase, M.D., Secretary, Human Services Department
Kathy Kunkel, Secretary, Department of Health
Brian Blalock, Secretary, Children, Youth and Families Department


Versión en Español

En un esfuerzo para hacer que nuestros comunicados de prensa sean más accesibles, también tenemos disponibles una versión en español. Por favor presione el enlace de abajo para acceder a la traducción.

Por qué la "Regla del Cargo Público" Federal Aumentará los Costos del Cuidado de la Salud y el Riesgo de la Salud Pública en Nuevo México