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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released its proposed rule to expand health care for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.
The goal is to reduce barriers for DACA recipients through Affordable Care Act Marketplaces, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
“DACA recipients, like all Dreamers, are Americans, plain and simple. The United States is their home, and they should enjoy the same access to health care as their fellow Americans,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in a press release.
You can comment now on this proposed rule change.
We at Salud America! have created the following model comment you can use to speak up on the proposed rule to expand health care coverage.
Comments closed on June 23, 2023!
June 2023 Update: 283 people submitted comments through the Salud America! model comment campaign to support the proposed rule to expand health care for DACA recipients. 530 total comments were submitted overall!
Ensuring that people with undocumented status have access to health care insurance is important for racial/ethnic equity and health equity, where everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be their healthiest.
There are over 44 million immigrants in the U.S. as of 2020. Most immigrants are Latino, coming from Mexico, El Salvador, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and other places around the globe. Many are undocumented (https://salud.to/dacahealth). Many are undocumented.
Many immigrants experience racism, discrimination, mental health issues, and challenges in everyday life (https://salud.to/dacahealth).
Among children, about one quarter (25.9%) of children in the U.S. have an immigrant parent. While more than 90% of these children are U.S. citizens, over 60% of them have noncitizen parents (https://salud.to/pubhealthimmi). This mix of citizenship and documented statuses can cause more challenges for families, especially when it comes to access to health care.
Most Latinos agree that change is needed in immigration policy (https://salud.to/immreform).
I support the proposed rule to expand access to health care by reducing barriers for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients that would ultimately provide better opportunities, security, and health for many families.
What is DACA?
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA is a federal program created by former-President Barack Obama.
DACA was put in place to protect immigrants who arrived in the U.S. when they were children from deportation, commonly referred to as Dreamers.
The program also provides the right to work legally in the United States. DACA status expires every two years with the option to renew.
“Recipients are eligible for work authorization and other benefits and are shielded from deportation. The fee to request DACA is $495 every two years,” according to the Anti-Defamation League.
“Every day, nearly 580,000 DACA recipients wake up and serve their communities, often working in essential roles and making tremendous contributions to our country,” Becerra said. “They deserve access to health care, which will provide them with peace of mind and security.”
What Does This Proposed DACA Rule Mean?
This expansion has the potential to help 129,000 previously uninsured DACA recipients receive healthcare coverage.
“Under the proposed rule, DACA recipients will be able to apply for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, where they may qualify for financial assistance based on income, and through their state Medicaid agency,” according to an April 2023 White House Fact Sheet. “Like all other enrollees, eligibility information will be verified electronically when individuals apply for coverage.”
If finalized, the rule would also extend Medicaid and CHIP coverage to children and pregnant women in states that have elected the “CHIPRA 214” option for children and/or pregnant individuals, the Basic Health Program, and Affordable Care Act Marketplace coverage.
Several states have expanded affordable healthcare for all, including California, Colorado, Illinois, and Oregon.
Go here for a complete case study on how these states have approached and implemented policy to expand access to full health care for all.
“Young people who come to this country—in many cases, the only country they have ever known as home—work hard to build their lives here, and they should be able to keep themselves healthy,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure.
Next Steps for the Proposed DACA Rule
If finalized, the provisions included in the rule would take effect on Nov. 1, 2023.
Several organizations, including the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), have voiced their support for the proposed rule about DACA recipients.
“As the pandemic made clear, the health of our communities depends on all of us having access to quality care. The Affordable Care Act and Medicaid are a lifeline to so many people, but DACA recipients have been unjustly excluded for over a decade,” said Kica Matos, NILC executive vice president of programs and strategy, in a statement. “We commend the Biden administration for moving to rectify this years-long injustice so that more DACA recipients can access the care they need.”
HHS sought public comments on the proposed rule from April 26 to June 23, 2023.