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Information About the New Public Charge Rule

February 4, 2020

Following a Supreme Court decision on January 27, 2020, the federal government will consider your application for and/or receipt of public benefits such as certain types of MassHealth coverage in determining whether you are likely to become a public charge for federal immigration purposes. The federal government will begin applying the rule on February 24, 2020.

The public charge rules are complicated and may impact your immigration status, and applying for benefits - even if you are denied - could also impact your immigration status, so it is recommended people direct questions to an immigration expert or Health Care For All.

The recent changes allow more types of public benefits to be considered when making public charge determinations. Benefits considered will now include:

  • Certain MassHealth benefits; 
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); and
  • Rental assistance under Section 8 housing vouchers, and public housing. 

The new rule does not change whether or not you are eligible for MassHealth or insurance through the Massachusetts Health Connector.

There are health benefits that are not taken into account in a public charge determination, including: emergency Medicaid (MassHealth Limited), MassHealth coverage for pregnant women or children under age 21, and coverage through the Massachusetts Health Connector, including Advance Premium Tax Credits (APTCs), ConnectorCare, and unsubsidized health insurance.

For more information about what benefits may or may not be taken into account in a public charge determination visit Health Care For All's website.

The revised public charge rule says that the following immigrant statuses are not subject to the public charge rule:

  • Green card holders who do not leave the country for more than 6 months (180 days) 
  • Refugees
  • Asylees
  • Survivors of trafficking, domestic violence or other serious crimes (T or U visa applicants/holders)
  • Special immigrant juveniles
  • Certain people paroled into the U.S.
  • Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioners
  • Active duty service-members

Questions?

For more information about the public charge rule call Health Care For All's helpline at: 800-272-4232.

For questions about your MassHealth coverage, contact MassHealth Customer Service at: 800-841-2900 (TTY: 800-497-4648).

For questions about your Health Connector coverage, contact Health Connector Customer Service at: 877-623-6765 (TTY: 877- 623-7773).