Changes put into place by the Trump administration penalizes immigrants who use public assistance such as Medicaid or SNAP.

Posted By: Jamie Parfitt

SALEM, Ore. — Officials at the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) underscored on Tuesday that a Trump administration rule change now in effect across the country flies in the face of the agency’s mission to help people receive adequate healthcare.

“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 said.

The rule change will expand the concept of public charge, making it more difficult for immigrants seeking a green card or visa to qualify if they have used most forms of Medicaid, food stamps, or housing vouchers. Previously the rule applied to a much more narrow spectrum of public assistance.

While the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services first tried to impliment the rule change back in August, legal challenges blocked it from going into effect for months. On Monday, the Supreme Court allowed it to go forward while the case continues to be argued.

“The Supreme Court on Monday issued a ruling that lifted the injunction on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s public charge rule — a rule that makes it more difficult for immigrants to get green cards,” OHA said. “Federal appeals courts had previously issued injunctions blocking the rule.”

“Monday’s ruling means the policy can go into effect in Oregon and every state, except for Illinois which is covered by a separate injunction,” the agency continued. “The lawsuits are not over, but the Supreme Court’s decision allows the rule to go into effect during the litigation.”

The agency went on to list types of public assistance in Oregon — and around the country — that will be affected by the public charge rule as well as those for which it does not apply.

Benefits now included under public charge:

  • Non-emergency Oregon Health Plan (i.e., Medicaid) coverage for non-pregnant adults 21 and older.
  • Medicaid-funded long-term care.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps.
  • Federal, state or local cash assistance programs. This includes:
    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and
    • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
  • Section 8 rental assistance (i.e., housing choice vouchers).
  • Project-based Section 8 housing and subsidized housing.

Federal and state programs not affected by public charge:

  • Oregon Health Plan coverage for youth younger than 21 (i.e., Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP).
  • Oregon Health Plan coverage for people who are pregnant including 60 days after giving birth (i.e., Medicaid, Citizen-Alien Waived Emergent Medical (CAWEM) Plus, etc.).
  • Oregon MothersCare (OMC) program.
  • Emergency Oregon Health Plan coverage for people of all ages (i.e., CAWEM).
  • Oregon’s Cover All Kids program.
  • Special education services funded by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that Medicaid covers.
  • Early Head Start and Head Start/Oregon PreKindergarten.
  • Employment Related Day-Care child-care reimbursement.
  • School based health services for school-aged children.
  • Free and reduced School Lunch Program (exception: the new rule would consider this if there was a referral to this program through SNAP).
  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program.
  • Commercial health insurance premium subsidies through Oregon’s Health Insurance Marketplace.
  • Oregon Food Bank programs and services.
  • Older Americans Act (OAA) programs.
  • State-funded programs to aid older adults and people with disabilities (e.g., Oregon Project Independence).
  • Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS).
  • Many other health and social services programs not listed here.

“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,” the agency said.

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