In February, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 that the new “public charge rule” could indeed go into effect in the state of Illinois. On February 23, the federal government confirmed that the effective date in Illinois – along with the rest of the United States – is February 24th.
Under the new rule, a person applying for a green card or visa could be denied if immigration officials determine that they are using or are likely to use certain public benefits, including some forms of Medicaid, SNAP and/or public housing assistance. The rule does NOT apply to refugees, asylees, pregnant women up to 60 days after birth, children under 21, or any of the applicant’s family members who use Medicaid.
Here is a helpful resource that explains the public charge rule in more detail.
The important things to remember remain the following:
- The public charge rules are complicated and do not apply to most Erie patients. The linked and attached English/Spanish flier includes information about groups exempt from the “public charge” rules, and the contact information for five organizations that provide free or low-cost legal services specifically on this issue. Current Erie patients can also be referred to the Health Justice Project.
- Erie strongly recommends that our patients speak with a legal expert before they make any decisions about their benefits, including Medicaid. Though the new rules do not affect the majority of Erie’s patients, news of their potential impact, combined with continuing anti-immigration policies, are causing fear and anxiety in immigrant communities about the use of public benefits like Medicaid.
- Four separate lawsuits, including one here in Illinois, are moving forward to argue that the public charge rule violates the Equal Protection Act, even as the rule goes into effect across the nation. This is able to happen because the U.S. Supreme Court voted only on the legality of the processes that were blocking the rule from going into effect, NOT on the merits of the case. Erie continues to remain hopeful that the judicial system will eventually permanently block this discriminatory rule.
Erie remains committed to serving all people, regardless of their immigration status or insurance status. We promise to keep you updated as further news unfolds and additional educational resources and training are developed.