DHS’ Final Rule: Impact of Public Charge on Health Care and Benefits

Executive Summary

On August 12, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a final rule redefining the term “public charge.” The rule makes fundamental changes to the longstanding application of public charge to the receipt of public benefits for certain immigrants. Nine lawsuits were filed challenging the rule. As of October 14, 2019 federal judges have issued five preliminary injunctions, include three nation-wide court orders, that prevent the rule from going into effect for the time being.

The purpose of this issue brief is to provide background information about public charge with a focus on the impact of the rule in the health care context (although the rule also applies to receipt of other public benefits). While the rule has been temporarily blocked by the courts, the final outcome of the rule will not be known until the courts issue their final orders. Until that time, the current policies regarding public charge remain in place.

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