Changes to “Public Charge” Inadmissibility Rule: Implications for Health and Health Coverage

The Trump Administration recently announced a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) final rule that changes the “public charge” policy in relation to legal immigration.  Under the previous policy, those seeking to enter the United States or obtain a green card may be denied if the government believes they’ll be a financial liability by seeking benefits under certain cash assistance programs.  However, programs such as Medicaid and SNAP were excluded from this determination.

 

The new rule has expanded the programs the government will consider when identifying whether someone will fall under the “public charge” classification, which is defined as an “alien who receives one or more public benefits for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36-month period.” The new rule now affects those seeking assistance under the previously excluded programs, such as certain Medicaid programs, SNAP, housing programs, and more.  The Trump Administration stated the reason behind the change was to ensure those coming to the U.S. were self-sufficient.

 

Critics of the rule believe the change is an effort to deter immigration.  Additionally, many are concerned at the number of legal immigrants this change will affect.  According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “13.5 million Medicaid/CHIP enrollees, including 7.6 million children, live in a household with a noncitizen or are noncitizens themselves.” This change will likely result in decreased program enrollment and potential health issues for those unable to afford care.

 

Read the final rule in its entirety here.

 

Read more from the Kaiser Family Foundation here.

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