Q: Can a green card holder who was sponsored by a U.S. citizen receive Medicaid?
A: Firstly, in New York and anywhere else, any alien, regardless of immigration status can qualify for emergency Medicaid. Under Federal Law, the income of the green card holder will include the income and resources of anyone who executed an affidavit of support pursuant to section 213A of the Immigration and Nationality Act and that person’s spouse. (1) Thus, they would be responsible and liable under Federal law.
Under New York law, the green card holder may be able to have Medicaid coverage, when considering two items together:
In the NYS Medicaid Program, the sponsor’s income is not currently counted toward the immigrant applying for health coverage, nor is NYS requiring sponsors to repay Medicaid for services used by the immigrant. (Though NYS Medicaid may implement these at a later date). (2)
During the first five years that a “qualified" alien is in the US, they are ineligible for Federal Medicaid assistance except for emergency care. However, NYS has determined that disallowing Medicaid benefits to green card holders and others lawfully in the US is unconstitutional under the NYS and Federal Constitutions. (3) Thus, for those legally in the US (and even some who are not legally here), for the first five years of ineligibility for Federal Medicaid assistance, NYS and local governments will pay 100% of the qualified alien’s Medicaid benefits.
Thus, though even if under federal law there is a right to come after those sponsors for support, because no Federal money is being used to pay for the State Medicaid benefits for the first five years, it seems unlikely that they would actually come after the sponsor(s) to reimburse that amount to a state that isn't interested in seeking reimbursement itself.
So the short answer is, yes, there is a way that a green card holder can qualify for Medicaid even if the sponsor has assets or income in excess of the Medicaid levels.
Keep in mind that this is only from a Medicaid point of view. There is also the question of whether the sponsor is failing to honor her affidavit of support. I have run this by my immigration partner here at Piede Sun LLP, and it appears there is no adverse consequences to this. However, as this is outside the scope of this article, I would recommend posing this question to a qualified immigration attorney.
(1) Pub. L. No. 104-193.
(2) 04 OMM/ADM-7.
(3) Aliessa ex rel. Fayad v. Novello, 96 N.Y.2d 418 (2001).
Elder Law Attorney