Expanded Access to Benefits for Older Immigrants and Their Families

After years of advocating to restore a humane Public Charge rule, LifeLong Medical Care and other advocates welcomed a final rule last month from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that will limit the discriminatory impact on older immigrants and their families —particularly those with disabilities, people of color, and those with limited English proficiency.

What is the Public Charge Rule? Beginning as early as 1882, the U.S. Congress used the concept to deny visas to people who would become a “public charge” as immigrants. A public charge is anyone who would become dependent on the U.S. government after gaining immigrant status. In 2019 the Trump Administration proposed a new Public Charge Rule which began in 2020 and made it much tougher for immigrants to get permanent resident status.

The final rule makes clarifications to exclude institutionalization for short-term rehabilitation and home and community-based services and ensures that people can safely enroll in Medicaid. It also confirms that eligible immigrant families can use other health care, nutrition, and housing programs without public charge concerns, and will help mitigate the ongoing chilling effect and other harms from the public charge policy enacted 2 years ago. Advocates continue working to expand access to health, nutrition, and housing benefits for older immigrants and their families.

See Dept. of Homeland Security press statement on Public Charge Rule.