Biden Expands Access to Health Coverage for DACA Recipients

Biden Expands Access to Health Coverage for DACA Recipients
U.S. President Joe Biden waves as he walks to the White House residence after exiting Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on May 2, 2024. (Drew Angerer/AFP)

WASHINGTON—The Biden administration announced on Friday a final rule that will expand access to affordable healthcare coverage for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published the final rule, which will remove the prohibition on DACA recipients’ eligibility for Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage for the first time.

“HHS is committed to making health coverage accessible for DACA recipients—Dreamers—who have worked hard to live the American Dream,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

“More than one-third of DACA recipients currently do not have health insurance, so making them eligible to enroll in coverage will improve their health and wellbeing and help the overall economy,” he said.

The DACA program was created in 2012 by President Barack Obama by executive order after Congress repeatedly failed to pass the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. The program shields from deportation about 800,000 immigrants who arrived in the United States as children illegally.

The young individuals affected by DACA and the DREAM Act are commonly referred to as “Dreamers.”

“Dreamers are our loved ones, our nurses, teachers, and small business owners. And they deserve the promise of health care just like all of us,” President Joe Biden said in a statement.

“On Day One of my administration, I sent a comprehensive immigration reform plan to Congress to protect Dreamers and their families,” he added. “Only Congress can provide Dreamers permanent status and a pathway to citizenship. Congress must act.”

The new rule is projected to help more than 100,000 DACA recipients gain healthcare coverage, according to the White House domestic policy adviser Neera Tanden.

Most illegal immigrants are currently ineligible for federal health benefits. With the new rule change, DACA recipients can gain access to the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Marketplace or get coverage through a Basic Health Program.

However, there are ongoing legal challenges against the DACA program brought by Republican-led states.

Currently, most people with deferred action status are eligible for coverage under the ACA. However, those with deferred action status through the DACA program are not eligible for coverage. So the new rule specifically addresses this issue, Ms. Tanden said during a call with reporters on May 2.

“Under this final rule, anyone with deferred action status, whether through the DACA program or otherwise, is treated as lawfully present for purposes of obtaining coverage under the ACA,” she said.

According to a White House fact sheet, DACA recipients will be able to apply for coverage through and state-based marketplaces starting in November.

The move, however, is opposed by Republicans who argue that it grants taxpayer-funded healthcare to illegal immigrants.

“There’s an unprecedented crisis at our southern border, we’ve got major conflicts around the world, and families all across Ohio are getting crushed by inflation,” Sen. JD Vance (R-Ohio) said in a statement. “Joe Biden’s response to all this is to give your hard-earned money away to illegal immigrants in the form of taxpayer-funded healthcare.”

In July of last year, Mr. Vance, along with more than a dozen House and Senate Republicans, sent a letter to HHS Secretary Becerra to oppose the measure.

Charlotte Cuthbertson contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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