SALEM — Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen released the following statement in response to Department of Homeland Security’s proposed public charge rule change, which was published in the Federal Register today:
OHA is closely monitoring the proposed change to the Department of Homeland Security’s federal public charge rule that could impact access to essential services like health care for some Oregon immigrant communities. It is important to know that the rule has not yet changed, and eligibility criteria for our programs have not changed.
However, we are aware that families are concerned, fearful, and faced with difficult choices. We will continue our work with local health care providers, advocates, attorneys, and community leaders to address the fears and respond to the changing immigration landscape while maintaining our focus on improving the health of Oregonians.
We know that health coverage contributes to healthier pregnancy, birth, and childhood outcomes, better education, and reduced emergency department visits and hospitalizations. OHA will continue to focus on transforming health care for all Oregonians.
Public charge is a term used in immigration law to describe an individual who is likely to become dependent on the government in the future. Being considered a public charge can result in the denial of a green card (permanent residency) application. Currently, the only public assistance that can be considered when determining a person will become a public charge is cash assistance (e.g. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Social Security Income) and assisted long-term care at the government’s expense.
The proposed changes would expand the list of programs that could impact public charge determinations to include non-emergency Medicaid (full Oregon Health Plan), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) and housing assistance. Homeland Security is also considering including the Children’s Health Insurance Program on the list and has requested public comment on that aspect.
OHA, led by Governor Kate Brown’s Office and together with Oregon Department of Human Services and Oregon Housing and Community Services, will closely monitor this proposed rule, study its impacts and work with community partners to support affected Oregonians.
One in 10 Oregon residents is an immigrant, while about one in eight U.S. born children has at least one immigrant parent, according to the American Immigration Council.
The public may submit comments to the Federal Register on the proposed rule change for 60 days, until Dec. 10, 2018. You can comment by visiting the Federal Register website at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/10/10/2018-21106/inadmissibility-on-public-charge-grounds.