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Oregon: Subsidized Health Insurance Won’t Trigger ‘Public Charge’ Label

A recent change in US immigration law has Oregon officials worried that confusion over what it means will lead legal immigrants to drop their subsidized health insurance. They're reassuring legal immigrants who have health insurance under Obamacare that their subsidized coverage won’t be held against them if they seek permanent residency.

Recent changes in immigration rules made by the Trump Administration mean that immigrants who receive food stamps or many other types of public assistance risk being deemed a “public charge” – that is, someone who’s dependent on government support. 

Leah Andrews is with the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, which runs the state’s health insurance marketplace. She has a message for immigrants who have subsidized health coverage under Obamacare.

"The last thing we want is for the confusion over the public charge rule to mean that people step away from the coverage that they have, or that they just signed up for," she says.

The new public charge rule adds more types of benefits – including food stamps and Section 8 rental assistance -- that could be used to deny legal immigrants who use them a permanent residency permit, or “green card.” 

Oregon officials want to make it clear that Obamacare subsidies do not count under the public charge rule.

Liam Moriarty has been covering news in the Pacific Northwest for three decades. He served two stints as JPR News Director and retired full-time from JPR at the end of 2021. Liam now edits and curates the news on JPR's website and digital platforms.