February 25, 2020
MAP and MAP BASIC are not federal programs therefore are not impacted by the new “Public Charge” regulation
(Austin, TX) – With the new “public charge” regulations that took effect Feb. 24, Central Health and its partners are implementing a community relations plan to help reduce confusion and fear within the local immigrant community with regard to seeking public assistance.
Central Health’s primary message to the community is that applicants and enrollees of the Medical Access Programs (MAP and MAP BASIC) are not affected by the proposed federal “public charge” regulations, as they are locally funded health coverage programs. At this time only recipients of federally funded programs already within the United States would be affected.
The “public charge” test is used by immigration officials to grant visas and determine permanent resident (Green Card) status.
“The new ‘public charge’ rule is just one of many factors that discourages health care access for immigrants and families,” Central Health President & CEO Mike Geeslin said. “MAP and MAP BASIC are programs designed for people with low income. Regardless of their immigration status we encourage all uninsured Travis County residents to apply without fear for MAP and MAP BASIC and get the health care they need.”
On February 24, 2020, the federal administration began implementing a new “public charge test”, making it easier for immigration officials to deny whether a person can enter the United States or get a Green Card because they have, or might use, public assistance – thus becoming a public burden.
The new regulation allows officials to evaluate a person’s socio-economic circumstances, including income, employment, health, education or skills, family situation, and whether a sponsor signed a contract (“affidavit of support”) promising to support another person. Officials will also look at whether a person has used certain federal benefit programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), some Medicaid programs, federal public housing assistance, and cash assistance programs.
“Last year, the Urban Institute found that one in seven adults in immigrant families avoided participating in a public benefit program for fear of risking their green card status,” said CommUnityCare Health Centers CEO Jaeson Fournier. “Through a collaborative community relations effort, Central Health and CommUnityCare are ensuring staff and partners are prepared to provide clients accurate and easy-to-digest information so they can continue getting the care they need.”
MAP is a comprehensive program that covers primary care, prescriptions, specialty care, and hospital care. MAP BASIC covers primary care and most prescriptions. Travis County residents with low income can begin the application process by calling 512-978-8130.
Central Health and its primary clinical operator, CommUnityCare Health Centers, are collaborating with Children Defend’s Fund, the Center for Public Policy Priorities, and American Gateways to provide training to practice administrators, doctors, nurses, and all front-line employees to ensure they can give clients accurate information about health care access, eligibility and where to seek legal advice.