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The Center has joined other organizations that advocate for older adults in filing amicus briefs in several lawsuits challenging the Department of Homeland Security’s “public charge” rule. The regulation, finalized last year, represents a drastic change in how applicants for lawful permanent residency (green cards) will be evaluated, and it will have a particularly negative impact on older immigrants, including those who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. Under the rule, use of programs that are often vital to the livelihood of older adults, such as Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps), or housing benefits, could jeopardize the pathway to a green card. The rule would also make being over 62, or having a treatable medical condition, “negative factors” in the public charge determination, and it would impose an arbitrary and unprecedented income test.

While the public charge rule does not involve Medicare itself, the use of Medicaid-funded benefits such as Medicare Savings Programs, which provide critical assistance with premiums and cost-sharing for lower-income Medicare beneficiaries, could weigh against a green card applicant. As the amicus briefs state, the rule “shoves aside existing law and erects new – and often insurmountable – barriers to entry into the United States for older immigrants.”

So far, the public charge rule has remained blocked from implementation by the courts, however the Trump administration has requested that the Supreme Court allow the rule to go into effect while the litigation continues. For more information, check the website of the Protecting Immigrant Families partnership.

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