PUBLIC CHARGE: Immigrants Continue To Shy Away From Healthy Families
Today's San Francisco Chronicle takes a look at the continued problem of immigrants who are reluctant to enroll their children in Healthy Families because they fear they will jeopardize their citizenship applications. State health officials fear that as a result, many of the uninsured children in the state "will grow up without health care that is now readily available." One Mexican immigrant who has not enrolled his 4-year-old daughter explained, "I know it will cause trouble for me when I apply for papers for my family." To date, only 56,000 of an estimated 400,000 eligible children have signed up for the program. And if the state does not sign up all the eligible children by October 2000, "the portion of federal grants that would have covered them will be withdrawn and distributed to other states." Former state Health Director Kim Belshe said, "I firmly believe that the single largest outstanding barrier to enrollment of children is federal immigration policy." The state has asked the Clinton administration to definitively clarify that "signing up for children's health insurance would not be used to label immigrants a 'public charge.'" The administration is still looking into the matter (Freeberg/Russell, 1/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.