Haitian individuals and immigrants from some other countries who have applied for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) may be eligible for public health insurance in New York State.
2019 updates -
August 2019 ALERT re Public charge - On Monday August 12, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security finalized a rule that dramatically expands the “public charge” immigration policy. The changes will apply only to applications that are postmarked or submitted electronically on or after October 15, 2019. They change the definition for deciding whether an immigrant who receives Medicaid or other government benefits is considered a "public charge" -- which can result in denial of Lawful Permanent Resident status (green card), denial of an extension of a non-immigrant visa, or deny admission to the U.S. Humanitarian immigrants including those with TPS status are exempt from Public Charge limits - benefits received while in an exempt status (TPS, refugee/asylee) will not be considered even if immigrant later applies for a green card through a family member. Read more about this change in public charge rules here.
What is Temporary Protected Status?
TPS is a temporary immigration status granted to eligible individuals of a certain country designated by the Department of Homeland Security because serious temporary conditions in that country, such as armed conflict or environmental disaster, prevents people from that country to return safely. On January 21, 2010 the United States determined that individuals from Haiti warranted TPS because of the devastating earthquake that occurred there on January 12. TPS gives undocumented Haitian residents, who were living in the U.S. on January 12, 2010, protection from forcible deportation and allows them to work legally. It is important to note that the U.S. grants TPS to individuals from other countries, as well, including individuals from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia and Sudan.
TPS and Public Health Insurance
TPS applicants residing in New York are eligible for Medicaid and Family Health Plus as long as they also meet the income requirements for these programs. In New York, applicants for TPS are considered PRUCOL immigrants (Permanently Residing Under Color of Law) for purposes of medical assistance eligibility and thus meet the immigration status requirements for Medicaid, Family Health Plus, and the Family Planning Benefit Program. Nearly all children in New York remain eligible for Child Health Plus including TPS applicants and children who lack immigration status. For more information on immigrant eligibility for public health insurance in New York see 08 GIS MA/009 and the attached chart.
Where to Apply
Individuals may apply for public health insurance with facilitated enrollers at community-based organizations or health plans, at HRA Medicaid offices in New York City, Social Services offices outside of New York City, public hospitals, and Department of Health Clinics. For a list of enrollers in New York City visit: http://www.nyc.gov/html/hia/html/public_insurance/enroll.shtml. For enrollers outside of NYC go to: http://www.health.state.ny.us/health_care/medicaid/ldss.htm.
What to Bring
Individuals who have applied for TPS will need to bring several documents to prove their eligibility for public health insurance. Individuals will need to bring:
1) Proof of identity;
2) Proof of residence in New York;
3) Proof of income;
4) Proof of application for TPS;
5) Proof that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has received the application for TPS.
Free Communication Assistance
All applicants for public health insurance, including Haitian Creole speakers, have a right to get help in a language they can understand. All Medicaid offices and enrollers are required to offer free translation and interpretation services to anyone who cannot communicate effectively in English. A bilingual worker or an interpreter, whether in-person or over the telephone, must be provided in all interactions with the office. Important documents, such as Medicaid applications, should be translated either orally or in writing. Interpreter services must be offered free of charge, and applicants requiring interpreter services must not be made to wait unreasonably longer than English speaking applicants. An applicant must never be asked to bring their own interpreter.
Related Resources on TPS and Public Health Insurance
o The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) has compiled a list of agencies, law firms, and law schools responding to the tragedy in Haiti and the designation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status. A copy of the list is posted at the NYIC’s website at http://www.thenyic.org.
o For information on eligibility for public health insurance programs call The Legal Aid Society’s Benefits Hotline 1-888-663-6880 Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays: 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
FOR IMMIGRATION HELP: CONTACT THE New York State New Americans Hotline for a referral to an organization to advise you. 212-419-3737
Monday-Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Or call toll-free in New York State at 1-800-566-7636
o For information on immigrants’ eligibility for public health insurance programs, consult the Immigrant Guide to Publicly Funded Health Care Benefits by Barbara Weiner:
Please see these fact sheets and web sites of national organizations for more information about the new PUBLIC CHARGE rules:
Printable Fact Sheets for Distribution
Click here for a printable flyer in English
Click here for a printable flyer in Creole
Click here for a printable flyer in French
This article was co-authored by the New York Immigration Coalition, Empire Justice Center and the Health Law Unit of the Legal Aid Society. 1/29/10, updated 3/1/10, updated 8/15/19 by NY Legal Assistance Group