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Santa Clara Family Health Plan's Response to the Public Charge Final Rule

Member news | Tuesday, October 15, 2019

On August 14, 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security published their final rule, Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds, which is an assault on vulnerable immigrant families in our community. The final rule widens the scope of benefits that will be considered in the determination of an individual's immigration status. Under the rule, legal immigrants applying for lawful permanent residency will be deemed a "public charge" if they used SNAP/CalFresh food benefits, housing assistance, or non-emergency Medicaid, barring them from legally immigrating to the United States.

Santa Clara Family Health Plan (SCFHP) recognizes the fear and burden the changes to "public charge" cause many of our members and their families, and the impact these proposed changes will have on the health of our community. According to UCLA Center for Health Policy and Research, 58,000 Santa Clara County residents will potentially be affected by the "chilling effect" created due to the misinformation, confusion and fear surrounding the final rule.

As of October 11, the Public Charge Final Rule has been delayed indefinitely and will not go into effect on October 15, 2019. Several lawsuits have been filed challenging the rule, including one by the County of Santa Clara. Federal courts issued a nationwide injunction postponing the change to Public Charge until the legal challenges have been addressed. We encourage our members to continue to seek regular medical care and continue using the resources our county is proud to offer. Medi-Cal enrollment is not currently considered a public charge. Anyone with specific questions about public charge should reach out to legal aid or safety net organizations that can help them understand their rights.

SCFHP was founded more than 20 years ago with a vision of building a healthier Santa Clara County. The change to "public charge" stands in direct opposition to our mission of providing access to high quality, comprehensive health care for our neighbors, including immigrant families targeted by this change. SCFHP supports the courts' injunctions and will continue to advocate for access to safety net services that help Santa Clara County residents work towards stability.

Download California Health and Human Services Agency's Public Charge Guide

Resources Available for Immigrant Families: Public Charge Information and Resources

General Information on Public Charge and Health Care:

Information on Chilling Effect: Proposed Changes to Immigration Rules Could Cost California Jobs, Harm Public Health, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, December 2018