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Court Blocks Trump’s Health-Care Rule for Immigrants

Michael Rainey

A federal judge has temporarily blocked a new rule from the Trump administration that requires immigrants to prove that they have health insurance or can afford to pay for medical care.

The rule, announced in a presidential proclamation on October 4, was set to take effect on Sunday. In a Saturday court session in Portland, Oregon, U.S. District Judge Michael Simon issued a 28-day restraining order to prevent the rule from taking effect.

A lawsuit opposing the new standard claims that it would unfairly block hundreds of thousands of legal immigrants, and Judge Simon appeared to agree. "Facing a likely risk of being separated from their family members and a delay in obtaining a visa to which family members would otherwise be entitled is irreparable harm," he wrote. Simon also questioned the use of health insurance status as the sole determinant of an immigrant’s admissibility.

The Trump administration maintains that immigrants are more likely to be uninsured and are a financial drain on U.S. taxpayers and the health care system. Immigrant advocates charge that the administration is attempting to ban poor immigrants, and health care experts have questioned the claim that immigrants are a serious drain on resources. According to one study cited by Reuters, immigrants who lacked insurance accounted for less than 0.1% of overall medical spending in the U.S. in 2017.

What’s next: The lawsuit will continue, and the judge is expected to rule on the merits of the case within the next 28 days.

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