Recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program could soon become eligible for Medicaid and Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage, President Joe Biden announced Thursday.
The DACA program was formed in 2012 by then President Barack Obama and then Vice President Biden. It provides some young undocumented immigrants (also known as Dreamers) protection from being deported and a work permit. The program has supported more than 800,000 people over the last decade, according to a White House fact sheet.
By the end of the month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is expected to release a proposed rule that would allow DACA recipients to apply for healthcare coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace or through their state Medicaid organization, the fact sheet said.
“Healthcare should be a right, not a privilege,” Biden said in a video posted on Twitter. “My Administration has worked hard to expand healthcare and today, more Americans have health insurance than ever. Today’s announcement is about giving DACA recipients the same opportunity.”
The Biden Administration has called on Congress to provide a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, though Congress has yet to do so.
“It’s past time for Congress to give Dreamers a pathway to citizenship,” Biden added in the video. “And while we work toward that goal alongside Dreamers, advocates, members of Congress, we need to give Dreamers the opportunities and support they deserve.”
After the White House’s announcement on expanding coverage to DACA recipients, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) released an analysis Friday detailing uninsured rates for those eligible for DACA. It found that 47% of those eligible for DACA were uninsured in 2022, compared to 10% of U.S.-born individuals in the same age group. The report also discovered that 43% have incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level.
Expanding healthcare coverage to DACA recipients could improve insurance rates for Dreamers, KFF said.
“Such an eligibility expansion would likely reduce uninsured rates among DACA recipients and, in turn, facilitate access to care and enhance financial protections from medical costs,” KFF stated in the analysis. “Expanding this coverage would increase federal and state costs, but the number of individuals who would be eligible for coverage is limited and not all individuals who are eligible would enroll. The expansion would also offset some state costs in states that provide state-funded coverage to individuals regardless of immigration status for which DACA recipients qualify.”
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