Biden Administration Expands Health Insurance Access for 100,000 DACA Recipients

The Biden administration has expanded health insurance access under the Affordable Care Act to approximately 100,000 previously uninsured DACA recipients, effective immediately. Starting November 1, 2024, DACA participants can enroll in ACA coverage and access financial assistance, including reduced out-of-pocket costs and tax credits.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Biden Administration Expands Health Insurance Access for 100,000 DACA Recipients

Biden Administration Expands Health Insurance Access for 100,000 DACA Recipients

The Biden administration has announced a significant expansion of health insurance access under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for approximately 100,000 previously uninsured participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, effective immediately. This move addresses a long-standing issue and comes ahead of the upcoming presidential election.

Why this matters: This expansion of health insurance access has significant implications for the health and well-being of DACA recipients, who have been disproportionately affected by lack of access to healthcare. It also sets a precedent for future policy decisions regarding healthcare access for immigrant communities.

The DACA program, launched in 2012 by former President Barack Obama with Joe Biden as vice president, provides deportation relief and work permits to "Dreamer" immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children or overstayed their visas. However, DACA recipients were previously barred from enrolling in ACA plans and could not access reduced-cost coverage or subsidies through health insurance marketplaces.

Under the new rule implemented by the Health and Human Services Department, DACA participants will be able to enroll in ACA coverage and access the same financial assistance as other Americans, including reduced out-of-pocket costs and tax credits, starting November 1, 2024. This change will enable them to participate in the 2025 open enrollment period.

"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," said President Biden, emphasizing the importance of this decision. The administration's action changes the definition of "lawfully present" to allow DACA participants to legally enroll in the marketplace exchange.

Xavier Becerra, the nation's top health official, highlighted the impact of this change, saying, "They incur higher costs and debts when they do finally receive care. Making Dreamers eligible to enroll in coverage will improve their health and well-being and strengthen the health and well-being of our nation and our economy."

The administration decided not to expand eligibility for Medicaid for DACA participants after receiving more than 20,000 comments on the proposal. While approximately 100,000 DACA participants are expected to enroll in the ACA's health insurance next year, the administration predicts that only 100,000 will actually sign up due to coverage through workplaces or other means, as well as affordability concerns.

"President Biden and I will continue to do everything in our power to protect DACA, but it is only a temporary solution. Congress must act to ensure Dreamers have the permanent protections they deserve," said Vice President Kamala Harris, reiterating the administration's commitment to protecting DACA recipients. The move is seen as a way to boost President Biden's appeal among Latinos, a crucial voting bloc, ahead of the presidential election.

The expansion of health insurance access for DACA recipients marks a significant step forward in addressing the healthcare needs of a previously underserved population. With approximately 100,000 individuals set to gain coverage, this change has the potential to improve the health and well-being of Dreamers and strengthen the nation's healthcare system as a whole.

Key Takeaways

  • Biden admin expands ACA coverage to 100,000 DACA recipients, effective immediately.
  • DACA participants can enroll in ACA plans and access financial assistance starting Nov 1, 2024.
  • Change addresses long-standing issue of healthcare access for immigrant communities.
  • Move expected to improve health and well-being of Dreamers and strengthen US healthcare system.
  • Administration's action seen as way to boost Biden's appeal among Latinos ahead of election.