By Carolina Escobar
On April 13, 2023, the Biden Administration announced their plan to expand health care coverage to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. The proposed regulations are slated to take effect on November 1, 2023, pending approval. In the meantime, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are seeking feedback from the public on the plan.
Currently, DACA recipients do not qualify as having a “lawful presence” under ACA regulations, despite having work authorization and paying taxes. The new policy changes propose the following:
- DACA recipients who financially qualify will now be able to access government subsidies for health insurance.
- If DACA recipients live in a state that provides Medicaid or CHIP coverage for lawfully present children and pregnant people without a waiting period, they will no longer be excluded from eligibility based on their immigration status.
The DACA program was established during the Obama administration to protect immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents as children without legal authorization. Since the creation of the DACA program in 2012, the Obama Administration excluded DACA recipients from the Affordable Care Act marketplace coverage and state-level health programs like Medicaid and CHIP. This policy has denied over 800,000 young people access to critical health coverage. The proposed rule would amend the definition of “lawfully present” to include DACA recipients.
After more than a decade of unjustifiably barring DACA recipients from affordable health care, this announcement is long overdue and simply the right action to take.
After more than a decade of unjustifiably barring DACA recipients from affordable health care, this announcement is long overdue and simply the right action to take. This milestone is made possible by the strenuous effort of advocacy groups, and it’s a major step in making healthcare programs more equitable and effective in supporting communities nationwide.
DACA recipients are among the immigrants in this country who are crucial to the country’s future. They serve in various essential roles as healthcare workers, educators, professionals, organizers, and students. Yet the DACA program continues to be under attack, and millions of other undocumented people without DACA still lack access to life-saving health care. Now is the time to build on this accomplishment and pass bipartisan legislation providing all immigrants a path to citizenship.
Stay tuned for an opportunity to have your voices heard!
Special Projects Intern, Children’s Defense Fund – Texas