Budget Revisions Could Address Immigrant Medicaid Rule

Oct 2, 2020

The state Senate approved its version of a budget Friday, leaving lawmakers in the General Assembly to reconcile their proposals.

One difference between the upper-chamber and the House comes down to a rule often cited as a barrier to healthcare for immigrants.

Ni Kin has lived in the United States since the early 2000s. She meets the federal government’s requirement that lawfully present immigrants reside in the country for 5 years in order to qualify for Medicaid. But in Virginia, she’s not eligible.   "The actual reasoning is because she does not have any work

Ni Kin (front row center) and her family
Credit Tin Myint

history," says her grandson, Tin Myint.  The 40-quarter rule is a state policy requiring a 10-year work history before immigrants can receive Medicaid.

His grandmother is in her 80s, long past retirement.  "So basically she doesn’t have any insurance," he says.

Both chambers of the General Assembly are on board with repealing the 40-quarter requirement, but they’re at odds over when, and under what circumstances they should spend the money necessary to eliminate the rule and provide coverage.  

Under the Senate version, Myint’s grandmother could get Medicaid in July of 2021. 

The House, on the other hand, is proposing that coverage begin on the first of the year. But that comes with contingencies. If revenues don’t go below a certain threshold, Ni Kin could get Medicaid as early as January. However, she could also lose coverage in July if a later revenue forecast spells a gloomier outlook than what’s expected.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.