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DACA Expanded Health Care

Attorney John Usher

The Department of Health and Human Services’ proposal to amend its rules and allow DACA recipients access to expanded health care marks a significant step forward for undocumented immigrants living in the United States. While the proposed rule would amend the definition of who is "lawfully present" for the purposes of Medicaid and CHIP, it would also extend health care coverage to thousands of previously uninsured DACA recipients. The change would remove the current DACA exclusion from the Health Insurance Marketplaces, the Basic Health Program, and some Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP), allowing for an estimated 129,000 previously uninsured DACA recipients to receive health care coverage.


For many DACA recipients, this change would represent a much-needed lifeline. As undocumented immigrants, many of these individuals have faced significant challenges when it comes to accessing health care. Without access to health insurance or Medicaid, DACA recipients have had to rely on community health clinics or emergency rooms for their health care needs. This has resulted in many individuals delaying or forgoing necessary medical care, which can lead to significant health consequences down the line.


The proposed rule would require DACA recipients to meet all standard eligibility requirements for coverage, including income thresholds and residency requirements. However, if the change is finalized, DACA recipients would also be eligible for financial assistance through the Marketplace, such as advance payments of the premium tax credit and cost-sharing reductions if they meet all other eligibility requirements. This could make health care coverage much more affordable and accessible for many DACA recipients who may otherwise struggle to pay for insurance.


While the intended date of implementation is November 1, 2023, there are still some potential hurdles to overcome before the change can be put into effect. For example, the proposed rule must go through a public comment period, during which stakeholders will have the opportunity to weigh in on the potential impact of the change. Additionally, there may be legal challenges to the change from opponents who argue that it goes against federal law or unfairly favors undocumented immigrants over U.S. citizens.


Despite these challenges, the proposed rule represents a significant step forward in the fight for expanded health care access for all Americans. By extending health care coverage to previously uninsured DACA recipients, the Department of Health and Human Services is taking an important step towards ensuring that all individuals, regardless of their immigration status, have access to the health care they need to live healthy, productive lives. If the change is finalized, it could have a significant positive impact on the health and well-being of thousands of DACA recipients and their families.

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