The Application Process For TANF, Food Stamps, Medicaid, and SCHIP. More Information Addressing Public Charge Concerns

01/01/2003

Compared to integrated applications, Medicaid/SCHIP applications are more likely to specifically address public charge concerns and assuage possible applicant fears about sharing information with the INS. Medicaid/SCHIP applications used in Arlington, Dallas, and Seattle contain explicit statements that information provided by applicants will not be shared with the INS. The Medicaid/SCHIP application used in Seattle contains two such explicit statements, once directly above the space that asks about citizenship and immigration information and once at the end of the application where the applicant's signature is required.

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Across our study sites, applications for public assistance vary considerably in length and readability. There is a striking difference between the newer Medicaid/SCHIP applications and the older integrated applications. In Medicaid/SCHIP, there has been greater attention and effort to design forms that are easily obtained through a variety of sources, short, simple to read and fill out, and cognizant of language barriers and immigrant concerns about immigration status as well as social security numbers. Collecting information necessary to determine eligibility for a variety of programs that have different eligibility requirements is inherently more difficult to accomplish through a single application form. Although some integrated applications are clearer and easier to understand than others, they are also typically longer, more difficult to fill out, and were generally designed before public charge issues had surfaced as a potential concern. However, even in the integrated application, some sites — particularly Dallas — provide explicit language about the confidentiality of information gathered by the application, such as SSNs and immigration issues that may reduce confusion or apprehension on the part of immigrants.

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