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Learn what you need to know about the Public Charge rule—and take action.
Learn what you need to know about the Public Charge rule—and take action.
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October 25, 2018 | Volume 22, No. 9 | Archives
Here’s what you need to know about the “Public Charge” rule—and what you need to DO
On October 10th the Trump Administration published a proposed rule that would change a longstanding immigration policy for people seeking to enter the United States or apply for legal residency. “Public Charge” is a term used to determine if people are (or likely will be) dependent on the government as their main source of support. The existing rule looks only at cash assistance programs (such as SSI/SSDI, TANF, etc.), while the new proposal expands the provision to include participation in safety-net programs such as Medicaid, SNAP/food stamps, Section 8/housing vouchers, and other vital programs. The full text of the proposed rule is published on the Federal Register, but you can also get information at this FAQ.
Public comments on this rule are due Monday, December 10. It is vital that service organizations submit comments—however brief—in response to this proposed rule. On Friday, November 9, we will be circulating our comments as well as a template letter you can adapt that is tailored to issues related to homelessness, health, and housing. Be on the lookout for those resources, and be talking with your partners, colleagues, Boards of Directors, and others so you are prepared to submit ahead of the deadline.
While use of Health Centers and Health Care for the Homeless service sites are not currently being deemed a Public Charge, these changes go against our core values and will significantly harm those we serve. Not only will the rule punish people for accessing basic human needs programs to which they are legally entitled, but it will also deter parents from enrolling their U.S. citizen children. Providers across the country are already reporting a decrease in clients and a greater unwillingness to engage in services due to the Administration’s policies targeting immigrants. Stand up for what’s right by being active on this issue!
Learn more about Public Charge and…
The National HCH Council is a proud member of Protecting Immigrant Families, a collaboration between thousands of advocates across the country. Join the campaign and learn more about public charge (FAQs, fact sheet, template letters, and more) by visiting
There’s a lot going on in addition to Public Charge! Here are some National HCH Council resources:
  • New Immigration Episode of the Council’s “Poverty Policy Podcast”: The Council’s new podcast “Poverty Policy Podcast” released its second episode featuring an interview with Wendy Cervantes, Senior Immigration Policy Analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy. Head over to our podcast page and learn about how immigration and poverty are connected and what you can do about it!
  • Opioid Bill Synopsis for the HCH Community: Check out our synopsis of the long-awaited opioid bill that passed Congress earlier this month with a vote of 393-8 in the House and 98-1 in the Senate. President Trump signed the bill into law on October 24, 2018.
  • Webinar Recording on Denver HCH’s Housing Program: Complementing our recent policy brief, the archived webinar provides an in-depth look at the integrated model of housing and health care at the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless in Denver.
Other Policy News to Know
  • Changes to Transgender Rules (New York Times): The Administration is considering a new definition of gender that would effectively deny federal recognition and civil rights protections to transgender Americans. This change would roll back many civil rights policies advanced in recent years.
  • Appropriations Watch: FY 2019 (Center for Responsible Budget): Before leaving for recess, Congress passed a spending bill that funded HHS (health programs) and other programs for next year and punted the final numbers on HUD (housing programs) and other programs until December. You can see final numbers in our updated budget chart.
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Regina Reed, MPH
National Health Policy Organizer
National HCH Council
Baltimore, MD
(443) 703-1337 
Submit Comments!
By law, the administration is required to respond to every comment before issuing a final rule. A flood of comments can slow down the process, shape the administration’s decisions, and show how many people care. We are asking members of the HCH community to submit comments before the December 10th deadline. Both individuals and organizations may submit comments. Submit comments directly at or via Protecting Immigrant Families.
Have Your Say
Talk It Up!
Talk about Public Charge with your community partners, share template letters, speak locally, and write op-eds to get the word out before the December 10th deadline. Use resources available from Protecting Immigrant Families, NACHC’s Advocacy Toolkit for Health Centers, or reach out to us directly for assistance in outreach or messaging.  
View Resources
Talk With Your Patients About Their Rights!
Let your patients know they are not alone and that they can fight back. Refer to How to Talk About Public Charge with Immigrants and Their Families and a Fact Sheet on Public Charge (also available in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Arabic, Farsi, and Bengali).  
Start a Conversation
FINALLY: Don't Forget to Vote on Tuesday, November 6!
ICYMI: Our Mobilizer last month focused on voter registration.  Ensure you are following through by showing up at the polls! Arrange for transportation to and from polling stations for your clients, and encourage your colleagues, friends, family, and neighbors to get out there and vote!
Get Started
A classic truism should be fairly clear by now: “The world is run by the people who show up.”
This publication and all HCH advocacy are funded by dues from Organizational Members of the Council and by private donations. Consider joining the Council to support this work.
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National Heatlh Care for the Homeless Council
PO Box 60427 | Nashville, TN 37206 US
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