October 11, 2019
California, Washington and New York federal judges today issued injunctions temporarily blocking the Department of Homeland Security’s new public charge rule that would make it more difficult for immigrants to get green cards. The new rule was scheduled to take effect on Oct. 15 and, among other changes, expands the list of benefits that the federal government could consider in deciding whether a person can enter the United States or obtain lawful permanent residency. Non-emergency Oregon Health Plan coverage (i.e., Medicaid) for non-pregnant adults 21 and older could be one of the newly impacted programs.
The Oregon Health Authority is the state agency responsible for protecting the health of all 4 million people living in Oregon. In a previous statement issued after the original federal rule was announced, the Oregon Health Authority said, "We know that health coverage contributes to healthier pregnancies, births, and childhood outcomes. When people have health coverage, they are better able to work, go to school and contribute in other ways to their local economy. Employers benefit from a healthier workforce, insurance costs are lower, and there is less absenteeism. As a result, this rule is in direct conflict with our agency’s mission, which is to help people and communities achieve optimum physical, mental and social well-being and improve access to quality, affordable health care."
OHA wants to inform Oregon residents that under the current rule, the only public benefit programs in Oregon that are subject to public charge consideration are cash assistance programs (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Social Security Income) and long-term care. Today’s injunctions prevent the public charge definition from being extended to certain additional federally funded programs like non-emergency Medicaid for non-pregnant adults 21 and older.
OHA encourages anyone who has questions or concerns about how public charge may affect them or members of their family to seek counsel from a qualified immigration attorney.
More information on the public charge rule is available here, including frequently asked questions in eight languages.