SUPREME COURT ALLOWS PUBLIC CHARGE RULE CRITICIZED BY MANY MEDICAL PROVIDERS TO GO INTO EFFECT PENDING LITIGATION

 

On January 27, 2019, the United States Supreme Court stayed a New York federal court’s nationwide injunction of the Public Charge Rule, allowing the Rule to go into effect everywhere except Illinois as litigation regarding its legality proceeds through the Courts. 

The Public Charge Rule gives great discretion to United Stated Citizenship and Immigration Services officers to reject the applications of legal immigrants who used any of a number of public benefits, including Medicaid, Medicare Part D (prescription drugs) subsidies, and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). The Rule does this by expanding the definition of “public charge” to include these benefits.  

The medical community has widely criticized the Rule, arguing that it would deter millions of people from enrolling in Medicaid and from receiving medical care by making it more difficult for individuals following the requirements for legal immigration to enter the country or to obtain permanent legal status. As stated by Kenneth Davis, MD., President and CEO of the Mount Sinai Health System in an opinion published in the New York Daily News: “Discouraging the users to take advantage of these programs compromises health. The rule would make individuals – and by extension our communities – sicker.” 

The Supreme Court stayed the injunction of the Public Charge Rule in a 5-4 decision. In a concurring opinion joined by Justice Thomas, Justice Gorsuch criticized the practice of nationwide injunctions stating: “The real problem here is the increasingly common practice of trial courts ordering relief that transcend the cases before them. Whether framed as injunctions of ‘nationwide,’ ‘universal,’ or ‘cosmic’ scope, these orders share the same basic flaw – they direct how the defendant must act toward persons who are not parties to the case….This is not normal.”  

The Supreme Court’s decision is linked here. For Whatley Kallas, LLP’s previous article on provider opposition to the Public Charge Rule, please click here. For Whatley Kallas’s previous article on Dr. Davis’s published opinion piece, please click here.