Dear Addy: Public Charge Rule

Dear Addy,
I’ve seen HFA post on social media about changes to the public charge rule. What are the changes and how could they affect the bleeding disorders community?
Concerned Advocate

Dear Advocate,
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Thanks for reaching out about this important and developing issue. As you may have seen on Hemophilia Federation of America’s social media and website, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has finalized a new rule that broadly expands the “public charge” evaluation – an inquiry which aims to determine whether an individual is likely to become dependent on the government for subsistence. Under the new rule, a legal immigrant’s use of a range of benefits, including Medicaid, can be counted as a negative factor when they apply for permanent U.S. residency or seek to enter/re-enter the country.
HFA urges members of the bleeding disorders community who are concerned about the public charge rule to keep the following in mind:

  • The public charge is not yet in effect.

    • The rule, by its own terms, does not go into effect until Oct. 15, 2019 – and numerous lawsuits have already been filed to block implementation of the rule.
    • Even if implemented, the rule will apply only to applications submitted on or after Oct. 15.
    • Even if implemented, the new rule will NOT count food, medical, and/or housing benefits used BEFORE Oct. 15.

  • Not everyone is subject to the rule.

    • Many people are exempt from the rule: green card holders, asylees, etc.
    • Not all benefits count as negative factors: CHIP, WIC, school lunches, state and locally funded programs are not counted. The use of Medicaid benefits will not count against children under 21 or against pregnant women.
    • Benefits used by family members will not be counted against an individual applicant.

Most importantly, please be aware that every situation is different. You may want to consult with an immigration attorney if you have questions about your own case. There are resources that can help you make the best choices for your family.
For more information on what you need to know about the changes, check out this short guide created by the “Protecting Immigrant Families, Advancing Our Future” Campaign, as well as this resource on knowing your rights (scroll down the webpage for links to information in a variety of  languages).
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HFA frequently receives questions from the bleeding disorders community related to advocacy issues. The questions often impact the entire community. In an effort to reach the largest audience possible with our responses to these widely applicable questions, HFA developed “Dear Addy.” Questions submitted to this column are edited in order to protect privacy and should be considered educational only, not individual guidance.