New Federal Public Charge Rule: Antipathy as Policy

Yesterday was the day Medicaid advocates across the country have been dreading. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) posted its final public charge rules to the Federal Register for inspection, with official publication scheduled for Wednesday.  The new rule aims to deny green cards to immigrants who use Medicaid, food stamps, housing voucher,s or other forms of public assistance

Here is a link to the final ruleIf litigation does not prevent the rule from taking effect, the policy will become effective in 60 days on October 15. 

Please see the following stories from The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and Politico

Our national allies issued strong statements in opposition to the rule.  The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities released this statement on the rule and the harm it will cause: 

The rule will have numerous adverse effects. It will sow more fear in immigrant communities and almost certainly lead many immigrants who are in the United States legally as well as their family members to forgo health coverage, nutrition assistance, and housing assistance that they need and are eligible for under federal law. This fear will be even more severe if the Trump Administration adopts another rule it has under consideration, one that reportedly would use receipt of benefits under the expanded public charge definition as a basis to deport some groups of immigrants.  The rule issued today will harm children and likely keep — or newly split — apart many families.

Families USA released this statement on the rule:

If we strip away the legalese and fine print, the Trump administration’s “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” rule, is squarely an abhorrent act of moral terrorism.

This policy, which could take effect as soon as 60 days, will affect approximately 10 million documented immigrants. And the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that enrollment will decline among the 19 million citizen children of immigrant parents…. 

The Trump administration is essentially giving documented immigrants a choice: you can get a green card, or you can access medical care that you likely cannot afford. That is not acceptable as a matter of public health or our nation’s moral character. And the rule is actually illegal and an example of hubristic overreach. 

We will not stand for this open-handed disregard for humanity. 

In our health care system access to medical care often depends on access to basic benefits like Medicare and Medicaid. These programs are used by over a hundred million Americans—they are hardly special benefits. This regulation penalizes lawful, documented immigrants by denying permanent residency for using these basic components of how we access medical care.

This fight is not over. A coalition of health care advocates will likely sue the Trump administration over this rule.  Already San Francisco and Santa Clara counties filed legal challenges to block the Trump administration's new rule. In their filings, the two northern California counties argue that the policy would "worsen" the health of their residents and increase public health risks. More lawsuits from other localities are expected.  In addition, some Members of Congress are exploring ways to block the implementation of the rule.  West Virginians Together for Medicaid will keep you posted on developments.

TAKE ACTION:  You can help spread the word about the harmful effects of the rule on social media. Please use the hashtag #ProtectFamilies on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can find more social media resources in the Protecting Immigrant Families Digital Media Toolkit.

West Virginians Together for Medicaid