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Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA) is now available to full-time refugee students when states apply for a waiver.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) – a division of the Administration for Children and Families, provides critical resources to new populations to assist them in becoming integrated members of American society, such as cash, social services, and medical assistance. Refugees and asylees are considered ORR-eligible populations.

One of the benefits funded by ORR is Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA). Those not eligible for Medicaid in their state may receive up to 12 months of RMA from their date of eligibility. RMA provides the same health insurance coverage as Medicaid.

Previously, under 45 CFR § 400.100(a)(5), full-time refugee students enrolled in higher education could only apply for Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA) under two exceptions: when such enrollment was approved by the state as part of the individual employability plan (IEP) or a plan for an unaccompanied minor.

ORR released a Policy Letter in October 2023, that now allows states to apply for a waiver and allow full-time refugee students to apply for RMA. The policy, is to be effective until September 30, 2025, unless extended. To apply for a waiver, states can reach out to their Division of Refugee Health (DRH) Health Liaison and if approved, the waiver will apply to all populations, and not to an individual. 

Note the waiver is only necessary if the refugee student is deemed ineligible for Medicaid in their state and therefore needs to access RMA.

More information about this policy and the waiver application process is accessible here or by downloading the attached Policy Letter. For questions about this policy, contact the Refugee Policy Unit at refugeepolicy@acf.hhs.gov. For programmatic questions or questions about the application of this policy, contact your DRH Health Liaison.

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