DACA Recipients One Step Closer to Accessing Federal Health Insurance Programs

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President Joe Biden’s administration is reportedly expanding eligibility for Medicaid and health insurance exchanges to hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the US illegally as children.

Federal-Funded Health Insurance for DACA Recipients

Two U.S. officials briefed on the matter have revealed that the new action will allow DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) participants to access government-funded health insurance programs. The move aims to change the situation that the immigrants were ineligible for government-subsidized health insurance programs because they did not meet the definition of having a “lawful presence” in the US. Biden’s Department of Health and Human Services is expected to make the announcement on Thursday.

The DACA initiative was started in 2012 to protect immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents as young children and to allow them to work legally in the country. The initiative still leaves immigrants ineligible for government-subsidized health insurance programs, according to a published article in U.S. News.

The White House’s action comes as the DACA program is in legal jeopardy and the number of people eligible under the program is declining. Approximately 580,000 people were still enrolled in DACA at the end of last year, a decrease from previous years. Court orders currently prevent the US Department of Homeland Security from processing new applications.

Benefits for DACA Recipients

The DACA recipients can work legally and pay taxes, but they do not have legal status and are denied many benefits available to US citizens and foreigners living in the U.S. DACA recipients and undocumented immigrants are currently banned from federally-funded programs, including Medicaid, which provides health care coverage for the poorest Americans, and the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace. About half of the roughly 20 million immigrants living in the US without documentation are uninsured, according to research from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Though there’s bipartisan support to offer some protections for immigrants, negotiations have often broken down over debates about border security and whether an expansion of protections might induce others to try to enter the U.S. without permission, ABC News reports.

Biden has repeatedly called on Congress to provide a pathway to citizenship for immigrants brought to the US illegally as children. Asylum seekers and people with temporary protected status are already eligible to purchase insurance through the marketplaces of the ACA.

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