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States Respond to COVID-19: Seeking to Freeze Public Charge Rule

Amid the COVID-19 crisis, attorneys general from New York, Connecticut, and Vermont are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to pause the administration’s public charge rule.

The rule could cause a significant number of immigrants to be wary of using public benefits, including non-emergency Medicaid, and delay needed care and treatment.

The final rule was set to take effect Oct. 15, 2019, until multiple federal district courts halted, or enjoined, the rule pending final resolution of lawsuits brought against Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In February, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the rule to take effect until the district courts make final decisions on the legal merits of the lawsuits. DHS began implementing the rule on Feb. 24.

In a new motion, New York Attorney General Letitia James and other plaintiffs in the legal case challenging the rule wrote that the “catastrophic COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered the nature and magnitude of the irreparable harms faced by plaintiffs, their residents, and the nation” under the public charge rule.

Using Race, Ethnicity Data to Find Disparities in COVID-19 Response

The National Academy of State Health Policy (NASHP) released a study identifying which states are tracking race and ethnicity data during the COVID-19 crisis to better understand how to tackle the pandemic. NASHP found that 25 states and Washington, D.C., report COVID-19 data by race or ethnicity.

State Plan Amendments Approved for R.I., Ark.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved two more state plan amendments related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On April 15, CMS approved an amendment in Arkansas to increase nursing facility rates by 10 percent from April 1 through June 30, 2020. The same day, the agency approved an amendment in Rhode Island to establish supplemental payments to direct care workers during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

CMS previously approved seven time-limited Medicaid disaster SPAs that requested program changes, such as removing requirements for cost-sharing and prior authorization.

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About the Author

Abigail Painchaud is a policy associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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