We heard a very sad story yesterday.
A client who is a Lawful Permanent Resident removed her children from the Medicaid program last fall. Her husband is applying for his residency in the immigration court, and she was afraid that using Medicaid for her children could hurt his case or cause her citizenship application to be denied in the future.
Over the Christmas holidays, her youngest child became very ill and had to be hospitalized for a week. The child was diagnosed with a serious chronic illness. Because she is no longer insured, the child has not been able to see the specialist that she needs, and the hospital bills are already staggering. Her mother is in the process of re-registering her for Medicaid/Chip, but it will take time and delay the child’s medical care.
Here is what this family — along with all of our friends and clients — need to know:
1. IF YOU OR YOUR FAMILY ARE USING PUBLIC ASSISTANCE, DO NOT CANCEL IT. Currently, the legal battle over use of public benefits for immigrants and their families is raging in the courts and will not conclude any time soon. There is no clear immediate benefit to canceling public assistance programs. If you or your children need them, use them!
2. BEFORE YOU MAKE CHANGES TO YOUR PUBLIC ASSISTANCE REGISTRATIONS, TALK TO YOUR IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY. Whether by phone or in person, make sure you have the correct information and advice before making changes to the public assistance programs you and your children are using.
3. MEDICAL BILLS ARE ALWAYS SUBJECT TO VERY GENEROUS PAYMENT PLANS. If you do incur a large medical bill because you need care and are uninsured, please note that the law provides patients the opportunity to pay very small monthly sums without harming your credit. You can pay as little as $5 per month, and the medical provider must continue to work with you on payment plans. After a period of making regular payments of even just $5 per month, you will be in a good position to negotiate a settlement of the bill. Please do not hesitate to ask for a reduction of the amount owed at any time. Hospitals and medical providers are often able to make these adjustments when asked.
WGV will continue to update friends and clients on the question of public benefits and how their use affects immigration cases. In the meantime, please do not make any changes without calling us first at (512) 633-1785 or email us at [email protected]