Health Updates –August 17, 2020
1. Public Charge Litigation Roller Coaster. Shortly after the final public charge rule came out it was enjoined by lower courts around the US but as of Feb 24 all those injunctions were stayed pending appeal. That meant USCIS could implement the new rule while the litigation was ongoing. July 29, one of those lower courts issued a new nation-wide injunction to stop the new public charge rule during the COVID 19 crisis, but on Aug 12 an appeals court limited the injunction to just three states not including MA. While the fights in the courts go on, the Trump era public charge rule is in effect in Massachusetts.
Advocacy: Keep up outreach efforts to combat chilling effects & help immigrants get the benefits they need. More information on public charge, the litigation, and community education materials and referral resources are here.
Also check out the Health Connector’s helpful new message on public charge here.
2. Redeterminations for 4300 pregnant women & children in non-Medicaid CHIP. On August 13, 2020 MassHealth redetermined eligibility for 2500 19 year olds no longer eligible for MH Family Assistance based on age and 1800 recently pregnant women in MassHealth Standard whose 60 day postpartum period had expired. Until then, MassHealth had protected these non-Medicaid CHIP-funded individuals in coverage anticipating CMS approval of its COVID 19 disaster request to extend the Medicaid termination moratorium to non-Medicaid CHIP. But CMS did not approve the request.
We don’t yet know what the results of the initial redeterminations were. Most of the pregnant women were probably found eligible for Health Safety Net. Among the 19 year olds, those living in households who were not tax filers may have been found eligible for CarePlus as single low-income adults. Those still claimed as tax dependents, may have been found eligible for ConnectorCare and should have time to enroll in coverage for Oct 1.
Advocacy: MassHealth based its redetermination on information in its files which may have been out of date. People whose circumstances have changed since their file was last updated may be eligible for better coverage. Please look out for these cases and give them priority. Please let us know what you are seeing. We are urging MassHealth not to rely on outdated file information when they resume redeterminations and need examples of how this leads to incorrect decisions. As the pandemic unwinds, we can expect to see more of this and do not want this approach to be the precedent.
3. Another chance for non-filers getting Social Security & VA benefits to get a $500 economic incentive stipend this year for their dependent children under age 17 if they act by Sept. 30, 2020.
On August 14, the IRS announced it will reopen the registration period for Social Security & VA beneficiaries who have “qualifying children” under 17, did not file a 2018 or 2019 tax return, and missed the earlier May 5 deadline for using the non-filer tool on the IRS website to provide information about their children. These individuals now have until Sept 30, 2020 to use the non-filer tool to register to receive the $500 per child payment this year. The 8-14-20 IRS Press Release is here.
Local resources for help using nonfiler tool for stimulus payment:
State-wide Low Income Tax Clinics :
Greater Boston Legal Services Tax Clinic: Tax returns and federal COVID payments: 617-603-1510 Call if you have a question or concerns.
WilmerHale Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School Federal Tax Clinic: Prospective clients can apply for assistance by calling (866) 738-8081 (toll free) or (617) 522-3003 and asking for the Federal Tax Clinic.
Boston Tax Coalition: Stimulus Payment Help: https://www.bostontaxhelp.org/
MassCap Tax Coalition https://www.masscap.org/
4. Health Connector Webinar for Individuals who Recently Lost Health Coverage August 19: Next Wednesday, August 19th, the Health Connector is hosting a live webinar to help Massachusetts residents who have lost employer-sponsored health insurance learn about their health coverage options through the Health Connector.
This webinar is an opportunity to review the basics about how to apply, enroll and get health insurance coverage through the Health Connector.
Basic Event Details:
When: Wednesday August 19th from 4:00 – 5:00 PM
Title: Get Covered through the Health Connector: What you need to know if you’ve recently lost health insurance benefits.
Location: Zoom webinar