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Covered California Q&A

Covered California and Obamacare related questions from consumers, employers and agents are answered by Phil Daigle with the best information available at the time. Archived entries may no longer be accurate as the Covered California and Obamacare knowledge-base is evolving quickly. TO REQUEST A PERSONAL RESPONSE INCLUDE EMAIL ADDRESS.

Repay Medi-Cal Costs for Sponsored Immigrants?

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Question: I read that sponsors of immigrants who sign the enforceable affidavit of support (Form I-864) may be required to repay the government for "means-tested" benefits used by the immigrant after he or she becomes a lawful permanent resident." and that "non-emergency medi-cal is a means-tested benefit". That says that if sponsored immigrants get on medi-cal, the sponsor should repay. Is that correct?

Answer: Yes. The sponsor is legally liable. The enforceable affidavit of support (Form I-864) states: "If a Federal, State or local agency, or a private agency provides any covered means-tested public benefit to the person who becomes a permanent resident based on the Form I-864 that you signed, the agency may ask you to reimburse them for the amount of the benefits they provided. If you do not make the reimbursement, the agency may sue you for the amount that the agency believes you owe." However, it is very rare for the sponsor to be sued. States are not required to go after sponsors, and to our knowledge, no government agency in California has sought reimbursement from a sponsor up to now.


The only instances of such efforts to reclaim expenditures to resident alien Medicaid beneficiaries I am aware of by federal or state governments involved cases of fraud. Unusually high expenses, such as those for long term care or other institutionalization, might cause the state to go after the sponsor for recovery, as it does any other beneficiary’s estate.

Thank you Phil. Is CoveredCA also a means-tested benefit?

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