LiveOn NY Opposes Proposed Public Charge Rule

The following comments were submitted on the record to the Department of Homeland Security in opposition to the proposed public charge rule:

LiveOn NY Opposition to Proposed Rule in
DHS Docket No. USCIS-2010-0012
December 5, 2018

LiveOn NY is a nonprofit membership organization representing 100 community-based organizations serving 300,000 older New Yorkers annually through senior centers, congregate and home-delivered meals, NORCs, affordable senior housing and other services.

LiveOn NY strongly opposes the proposed Public Charge Rule.

Public Benefits are Critical to Supporting Health and Independence

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Public benefits are for everyone, particularly older adults. In New York City, 50% of the older adult population are immigrants, and we oppose any Rule that would deny or deter access to public benefits based on immigration status to those in need of these supports.

Further, 89% of adults over age 50 say they wish to age in place as long as possible, and the availability of these benefits, coupled with community based services are critical to supporting older New Yorkers to remain healthy and independent in their communities.

That said, we also know that public benefit programs are already disproportionately underutilized by older New Yorkers, in part because of the stigma surrounding them. For example an alarming 56% of eligible older adults in NYC do not receive food stamps. For SCRIE, also known as the Rent Freeze program, according a NYC Department of Finance report, the underutilization rate is even more drastic: only 43 percent of those eligible for SCRIE (approximately 52,000 households out of 121,729) actually are actually enrolled in the program.

The Proposed Public Charge Rule will Have a Drastic Effect on Older Adults

First, the Proposed Rule includes examining usage of critical benefits for older adults such as Medicare Part D, Medicaid home and community based services, the Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP) and others. It cannot be understated that these programs keep older New Yorkers in their homes and communities, and further decrease the need for more costly levels of care. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA):

  • 4.5 million households with at least one person over the age of 60 receives SNAP.

  • About 12 million older adults are enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid. This population utilizes Medicaid for long-term care, which includes home and community-based services, as well as other services not covered by Medicare.

Second, being over 61 will be considered a “negative” factor, as well as a person’s health status if it is deemed to interfere with their ability to work. All of the considerations noted above will only exacerbate the aforementioned reality that benefit programs are already disproportionately underutilized by older New Yorkers. Our Benefits Outreach team has already received questions about how an individual could go about canceling their benefits in fear that remaining enrolled in the program would negatively impact the individual or family’s immigration status.

LiveOn NY’s mission is to make New York a better place to age and strongly believes that we all should have the dignity, support and ability to age well in our communities. Therefore, LiveOn NY strongly oppose these Proposed Public Charge Rule, as it will have negative implications for those who rely on these critical supports.