States Ask Supreme Court To Allow Noncitizens Access To Public Health Care

(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Kaylee Greenlee Immigration and Extremism Reporter
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The states of New York, Connecticut and Vermont asked the Supreme Court to bar regulations set by the Trump administration which penalize noncitizens who seek health benefits, claiming immigrants should receive the same access to healthcare amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“The regulation is impending efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus, preserve scarce hospital capacity and medical supplies, and protect the lives of everyone in our communities – citizens and noncitizens alike,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James in the motion sent to SCOTUS.

In January a SCOTUS ruling granted the Trump administration the option of denying green cards if immigrants made intermittent use of public health benefits. The three states, along with New York City petitioned for justices to suspend the program until the national emergency declaration ends on March 13.

“By deterring immigrants from accessing publicly funded health care, including programs that would enable immigrants to obtain testing and treatment for COVID-19, the Rule makes it more likely that immigrants will suffer serious illness if infected and spread the virus inadvertently to others,” Wall Street Journal reported that the motion said.

The motion filed on Monday recognized that while the Trump Administration has posted a notice of change to the program, it was “confusing and inadequate.”

The notice states, “USCIS encourages all those, including aliens, with symptoms that resemble Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) (fever, cough, shortness of breath) to seek necessary medical treatment or preventative services,” and that, “such treatment or preventive services will not negatively affect any alien as part of a future Public Charge analysis.”

The three states along with New York City claim that the notice “does not fully address the grave harms that the rule is causing during the ongoing pandemic.”

Acting Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli Tweeted,

The motion claims a green card applicant who pursues “federally funded Medicaid will have that application count against him in the public charge inquiry, even if subsequently obtained COVID-19 treatment paid for by federally funded Medicaid does not itself count in the public charge inquiry.”

The Trump Administration issued a revision for immigrants who might need public assistance in August. The rule expanded the criteria to cover “noncash benefits providing for basic needs such as housing or food” claimed in any 12 months in a 36-month period.