Immigrants Can Now Safely Apply for Medicaid

Carson City September 27, 2021

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services and the Governor’s Office for New Americans are encouraging immigrant families who qualify for Medicaid to apply for benefits now that a federal rule change has taken effect.

The 2019 Public Charge Final Rule – “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” – is no longer in effect. That means that accessing public support for health care and housing will no longer be considered as grounds of inadmissibility under public charge when an immigrant applies to enter the U.S. or when applying to become a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR). Immigrants can access state benefits they qualify for without fear of hindering their or their family’s ability to adjust their immigration status because they have Medicaid health insurance.

“We are committed to improving the health of Nevadans and reducing the number of uninsured in this state,” said Suzanne Bierman, Nevada Medicaid Administrator. “We want Nevadans, including eligible immigrant populations, to know that applying for needed health insurance from Medicaid will not impact immigration status.”

The Urban Institute found in a 2020 study that the previous rule had a “chilling effect” on immigrants in Las Vegas applying for public benefits, especially among mix-status immigrant families, who were hesitant to enroll themselves or their children in programs such as Medicaid and or the Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP) or chose to withdraw from these programs altogether. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is encouraging states to reach out to immigrants to apply for benefits after issuing an informational bulletin reaffirming that the 2019 Public Charge Final Rule is no longer in effect.

“Immigrant families in Nevada have been reluctant and fearful of applying for Medicaid and other benefits because of the previous public charge rule, including immigrant parents whose citizen children are eligible,” said Charina de Asis, Director of the Governor’s Office for New Americans. “This new federal rule change is great news for immigrant families. We will continue to work with Nevada Medicaid and our community-based organizations to ensure that eligible Nevadans are aware of this change.”

In 2019, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made changes to public charge rules which were subsequently eliminated by federal courts. DHS is now applying the 1999 interim field guidance on public charge, which does not consider an individual’s receipt of Medicaid benefits as part of a public charge determination unless the individual is institutionalized for long-term care.

Nevada Medicaid offers free or low-cost health insurance for working Nevadans, people who have lost their jobs or have become too sick to work. We support low-income families, children, seniors, and people with disabilities. We offer financial protection against bankruptcy for families who are struck by unexpected illness. We make health care possible in many urban and rural communities. It's always open enrollment at Nevada Medicaid, apply at Access Nevada, or call 1-800-992-0900. If you are not eligible for Medicaid, check your eligibility through Nevada Health Link, which offers subsidies and tax credits to cover monthly health insurance costs. Apply at or call 1-800-547-2927.

The Nevada Governor’s Office for New Americans (ONA) was created to promote the inclusion and integration of immigrants, refugees, and aspiring Americans into the civic, economic, and cultural life of Nevada. ONA works to bridge the world of state government and the complex changes in immigration policy that affect all Nevadans. By breaking down bureaucratic barriers that often hinder economic self-sufficiency and civic integration, ONA is working to make Nevada an even more welcoming state for all. For more information about ONA visit our website at


Ky Plaskon
Public Information Officer, Division of Health Care Financing and Policy