Biden Strikes Down Trump Rule Requiring Immigrants To Buy Health Insurance

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Biden Strikes Down Trump Rule Requiring Immigrants To Buy Health Insurance

Topline

President Joe Biden will revoke a Trump administration rule that requires immigrants to prove they’ll have health insurance soon after arriving in the United States, the White House said Friday, a policy former President Donald Trump’s staff claimed would ease burdens on the U.S. healthcare system but critics saw as a wealth test for migrants.

Key Facts

Trump’s 2019 rule mandated that prospective adult immigrants have individual, family or employer-based health insurance lined up within 30 days of arrival, unless they could afford to foot their own medical bills, with a few narrow exceptions.

The rule required that individual health insurance plans be unsubsidized, meaning people who receive subsidies through health insurance marketplaces likely wouldn’t qualify.

The Trump administration said it would lessen the financial strain imposed by uninsured people visiting emergency rooms, but advocates saw the move as a stealthy way of making it harder to immigrate to the United States — especially for immigrants of limited means.

Like many of Trump’s immigration-focused executive orders, the insurance requirement has faced legal challenges: A California judge blocked the policy from taking effect in 2019, but a federal appeals court reversed that decision late last year.

Crucial Quote

“My Administration is committed to expanding access to quality, affordable healthcare,” Biden said in a proclamation Friday. “We can achieve that objective, however, without barring the entry of noncitizens who seek to immigrate lawfully to this country.”

Big Number

65%. That’s the share of new green card-holders who would not have met Trump’s insurance requirement, either because they lacked health insurance or took advantage of subsidies, the pro-immigration Migration Policy Institute estimated in 2019.

Key Background

The health insurance requirement was part of a wave of Trump-era policies seeking to tighten standards for legal immigration. Most notably, Trump aimed to reject green card applicants if they’ve used a wide array of government programs like Medicaid or public housing in the past, or if their incomes put them at risk of needing public assistance in the future. This “public charge rule,” proposed in 2019, was cast as a way of ensuring immigrants are self-sufficient, but critics blasted it for excluding productive low-income immigrants. Federal courts struck down the rule last year, and Biden chose not to appeal their decision.

Tangent

Biden has gradually reversed some of Trump’s strict immigration policies. He unwound a Trump-era program requiring asylum-seekers to stay in Mexican border cities while waiting for their court dates, narrowed the types of undocumented immigrants targeted for arrest, and tried to halt deportations — though his deportation moratorium was blocked in court in January.

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