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Administration Advises States on Change to Public Charge Rule

The Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) on July 22 released an informational bulletin informing states that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has vacated its 2019 public charge final rule and the rule will no longer be in effect, retroactive to March 2, 2021.

The withdrawal of the public charge rule allows millions of immigrants to exercise their right to access Medicaid coverage, housing assistance, and other governmental provisions without potential immigration-related consequences.

In an ongoing effort to foster trust among immigrant communities, the CMCS bulletin addresses states’ role in safeguarding applicant and beneficiary information as a protection of their legal rights to critical government services. CMCS also urges providers to dispel fears that access to benefits will impact their immigration status.

DHS has reverted to applying the pre-existing public charge statutes identified in the 1999 interim field guidance. Under these terms, beneficiary information may only be shared as it applies toward the administration of Medicaid state plan or Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage. Further, DHS is not considering an individual’s receipt of Medicaid benefits as part of the public charge determination, with the exception of long-term stays in an institution, as outlined in the 1999 guidance.

More information on the public charge definition and the current public charge policy guidance is available on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Aaliyah Brown is the Bluford Healthcare Leadership Fellow at America’s Essential Hospitals.

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