Arlington, VA – The following is a statement from James Firman, President and CEO of the National Council on Aging (NCOA) in response to the ‘public charge’ rule change posted today in the Federal Register.
“This proposed change to the ‘public charge’ evaluation for older adults who are legally immigrating to America fundamentally threatens the health and economic security they are seeking in their new home. The stricter evaluations and broader criteria will create a personal and moral hazard for older adults who are looking to age with their families around them.
“Since the first rumors of these changes began spreading, we’ve been hearing from our community partners that older adult immigrants are already afraid and unwilling to seek participation in programs for which they are eligible – and have an intense need for – because they fear repercussions for their family or themselves. Now that we see the broad scope of additional criteria, we fear a wider range of older adult immigrants will not seek programs that support home and community-based services, healthy nutrition, prescription drug access, or even housing – all of which lead to a better quality of life and ultimately, improved well-being.
“This change also has the potential to affect the lives of thousands of older adults and caregivers who rely on home health care. One in four home health aides is an immigrant. We know that overwhelmingly people want to age in their home, but the proposed rule could threaten the safety of these low-income workers and decimate the support needed for the aging population to age in place.
“NCOA’s vision is a just and caring society where everyone can age with dignity, purpose, and security. This proposed change flies in the face of that vision, leaving families to make an impossible choice between aging well or aging securely with their families.”
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is a trusted national leader working to ensure that every person can age well. Since 1950, our mission has not changed: Improve the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are struggling. NCOA empowers people with the best solutions to improve their own health and economic security—and we strengthen government programs that we all depend on as we age. Every year, millions of people use our signature programs BenefitsCheckUp®, My Medicare Matters®, and the Aging Mastery Program® to age well. By offering online tools and collaborating with a nationwide network of partners, NCOA is working to improve the lives of 10 million older adults by 2020. Learn more at ncoa.org and @NCOAging.