DACA Recipients Eligible for Coverage With New Healthcare Expansion

Before this new ruling, 27% of DACA recipients report not having health care coverage

DACA Protests

Wendolynn Perez, 23, second from left, a DACA recipient who is now a permanent resident and is originally from Peru, chants with other supporters of immigration reform, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, at the White House in Washington. The protesters want to preserve the Obama administration program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. The Trump administration has said it still has not decided the program's fate.(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The undocumented community has long fought for a way to making a living in the U.S. through a pathway to citizenship. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created by former President Barack Obama back in 2012 for young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States at 16 and were under 31 years of age as of June 15, 2012. While the program has been under threat—declared illegal in court in 2013 and again in September of last year when the District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled against it—it has helped numerous undocumented immigrants, many who are Latinx, gain educational and job opportunities. Despite the ability to obtain work permits and being able to work and study without the fear of deportation, DACA recipients have been unable to access federally funded health insurance. While some may be able to obtain healthcare through their employment, a 2023 report from the National Immigration Law Center found that over a quarter (27 percent) of DACA recipients reported they were not covered by any kind of health insurance or other health care plan. Now that’s changing with access to healthcare for DACA recipients as the Biden-Harris Administration announced a new rule that will soon make recipients eligible to receive federal health care coverage.

About 580,000 Dreamers are currently living in the United States and soon enough those eligible will be able to access healthcare. According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, DACA recipients “will no longer be excluded from eligibility to enroll in a Qualified Health Plan (QHP) through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Health Insurance Marketplace, or for coverage through a Basic Health Program (BHP).”

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) estimates that this expansion to the ACA could lead to 100,000 DACA recipients being able to enroll in health insurance through Marketplace or BHP. The rule is to be effective come November 1, 2024. During the 60 days after this date, DACA recipients will qualify for a special enrollment period to choose a health plan through the Marketplace. Those who meet the eligibility may receive coverage as early as December 1, 2024 through the Marketplace and those who are eligible for BHP can receive it as early as November 1, 2024.

A number of Latinx leaders have reacted to the news of this expansion to the Affordable Care Act and the impact it will have on the Latinx DACA recipients including, Congressman Joaquin Castro who released a statement:

“Over the last twelve years, DACA has allowed hundreds of thousands of first-generation Americans to graduate from college, join the workforce, and chase their American dreams in the only country many of them have ever known. Throughout that time, these young Americans have been asked to work and pay taxes to support a system of affordable health care that excluded them. Today’s announcement is an important step forward to right that wrong. The rapid spread and devastating toll of the COVID-19 pandemic was a reminder that our country is safer when everyone has access to the care they need. “

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affordable care act Biden Administration DACA dreamers Health care immigration The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals undocumented immigrants
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