Public Health Seattle - King county: New "public charge" rule threatens the health of our communities

Thursday, January 30, 2020

WIC benefits are NOT affected
By Keith Seinfeld, Public Health Insider

A new immigration rule that Public Health–Seattle and King County (PHSKC) Director Patty Hayes calls “inhumane” went into effect on January 27, 2020, because of a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The rule would penalize some immigrants who use certain health, food or housing services and then apply for permanent (Green Card) status. 

This is scaring some people from using basic services that they are legally entitled to use — services that keep them healthy and promote overall community health.

Much of the harm from the new rule comes from spreading fear, unnecessarily. So, it is important to note this key fact: Many important health and nutrition programs are exempted from the final version of the new rule, thanks to more than 200,000 comments opposing the first draft.

For example, using these services would not impact anyone’s immigration status:
  • The WIC nutrition program for families with young children
  • Medicaid health services for pregnant women and for children under age 21
  • School breakfast and lunch programs

That means people may not need to disenroll themselves or their children from public programs.

Still, the rule does apply to many adults on Medicaid and to the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) food stamps program.

That’s a key reason why so many healthcare organizations, including American Academy of Pediatrics, American Hospital Association, and American Public Health Association, have strongly opposed the new rule.

Every person’s situation is different, so those affected may need to speak with an attorney or legal advocate.

King County residents or those who work in Seattle in need of legal services for their immigration case can call 206-816-3870 to find out if they qualify.

The City of Seattle is in the process of working with community-based organizations to launch a series of informational workshops to present accurate information about public charge. They hope to start these events in February. 


Spartan Dude January 30, 2020 at 7:12 AM  

There was no Medicaid, SNAP or Food Stamps in Shoreline when my family moved here in 1947 and somehow everyone found jobs and survived. Now as pensioners we must sell our home because of massive tax increases.

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