Statement of Stacey D. Stewart, President and CEO, March of Dimes on the Administration Finalizing its “Public Charge” Rule Endangering Pregnant Women & Children

August 12, 2019

March of Dimes released the following statement from Stacey D. Stewart, President and CEO, in response to the Administration’s action today finalizing the rule on the circumstances under which immigrants could be considered a “public charge,” thereby endangering their immigration status. March of Dimes submitted formal comments on the proposed rule in December last year raising its serious concerns.

“March of Dimes is extremely concerned with Administration’s action today finalizing the “public charge” rule, which goes against our nation’s values. This misguided action will cause pregnant women and families to avoid the entirely legal and permissible use of Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), resulting in significant harm to their health. Women who do not have access to medical services run the risk of a vast range of health issues that have implications for their present and future wellbeing, as well as that of their child.

“The rule would put in place daunting disincentives that will leave millions of women, children and families without access to programs that address their basic health needs. In addition to driving eligible individuals away from Medicaid and SNAP, this will also cause an exodus from other critical programs. Public health will suffer not only from the direct morbidity and mortality caused by lack of access to care, but from the consequences of untreated infectious disease and other conditions. The result will be significant, unnecessary and potentially lifelong harm to the health and wellbeing of women, children and families.

“It is important to note that this policy does not actually change immigrants’ eligibility for these programs. Rather, it punishes them for taking advantage of the services they need and for which they are eligible. We urge the Department of Homeland Security to immediately reverse course and withdraw this rule in its entirety and focus instead on building strong, healthy communities.”