Joe Biden Opposes Trump's Health-Care-Buying Requirement for Immigrant

Trump's 2019 rule required prospective adult immigrants to have individual, family, or employer-based health insurance within 30 days of arrival unless they could afford to pay their own medical bills.
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President Donald Trump and Joe Biden

The White House announced Friday that President Joe Biden will revoke a Trump administration rule requiring immigrants to show they will have health insurance soon after arriving in the United States, a policy defended by former President Donald Trump's staff as easing burdens on the US healthcare system but criticized by critics as a wealth test for migrants.

With a few exceptions, Trump's 2019 rule required prospective adult immigrants to have individual, family, or employer-based health insurance within 30 days of arrival unless they could afford to pay their own medical bills.

Individual health insurance plans were required to be unsubsidized under the rule, which meant that people who receive subsidies through health insurance marketplaces were unlikely to qualify.

The Trump administration said that the measure would reduce the financial load on emergency rooms caused by uninsured people, but critics saw it as a sneaky tactic to make it more difficult to immigrate to the United States, particularly for low-income immigrants.


The Trump administration said that the measure would reduce the financial load on emergency rooms caused by uninsured people, but critics saw it as a sneaky tactic to make it more difficult to immigrate to the United States, particularly for low-income immigrants.

The insurance requirement, like many of Trump's immigration-related executive orders, has been met with legal challenges: A California judge barred the regulation from going into force in 2019, but that ruling was overturned by a federal appeals court late last year.

“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.”

65 percent of the time According to the pro-immigration Migration Policy Institute, this is the percentage of new green card holders who would not have met Trump's insurance requirement if they didn't have health insurance or took advantage of subsidies.

The health insurance requirement was part of a slew of Trump-era actions aimed at tightening immigration rules. Most notably, Trump sought to deny green card applicants who had previously used a variety of government programs such as Medicaid or public housing, or whose wages put them in danger of needing government assistance in the future. This "public charge rule," proposed in 2019, was billed as a measure to ensure that immigrants be self-sufficient, but detractors charged that it would exclude industrious low-income immigrants. Last year, federal courts overturned the rule, and Biden decided not to appeal.

Some of Trump's hardline immigration proposals have been gradually reversed by Biden. He reversed a Trump-era policy that required asylum seekers to wait for court dates in Mexican border communities, limited the sorts of undocumented immigrants targeted for arrest, and attempted to freeze deportations — but his deportation moratorium was overturned in court in January.