Report blames ‘chilling effect’ of immigration policy for Latinx and Asian uninsured kids

Oct 29, 2019

More Latinx and Asian children in New Jersey are living without health insurance, according to a new report.

Researchers with the progressive think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective believe tougher immigration policies from the Trump administration are instilling fear in immigrant communities in New Jersey, where 85% of foreign-born residents hail from Latin America and Asia.

“This provides empirical evidence to support anecdotal reports we’ve heard from many immigrant families that they were afraid to apply for public programs due to anti-immigrant policies that have been established or proposed by the Trump administration,” said Ray Castro, who wrote the NJPP report.

According to the report, the number of Latinx and Asian children without health insurance in New Jersey jumped by 6.5% in 2018. That occurred even as more white and black New Jersey children got coverage.

Researchers said that fewer people were signing up for Medicaid because of the falling unemployment rate but added that the changes could not be explained by economic factors alone.

It comes as the Trump administration continues to fight a court battle on multiple fronts to implement its new “public charge” rule, which would make it more difficult for immigrants using public benefits to obtain green cards.

Castro said the “chilling effect” of the Trump administration policies means that fewer immigrant families have health insurance, leading many of them to seek medical care in hospital emergency rooms.

According to NJPP, hospitals in New Jersey spend an additional $8.5 million on charity care due to rising uninsurance rates among immigrant children.

“That costs the taxpayers more money because of course charity care is provided with state and federal funds,” Castro said. “But it also hurts hospitals, because they don’t get fully reimbursed, so they have to eat a lot of those costs.”

Researchers said that while the state has little power to influence federal rule-making, it could pass laws to make it easier for all children to get health insurance and expand outreach in immigrant communities.