Biden to Expand Access to Health Care for Immigrants Brought Illegally to U.S. as Children

In HealthDay News
by Healthday

DACA participants have not had the opportunity to obtain health insurance as they do not meet the definition of having ‘lawful presence’ in the United States

By Physician’s Briefing Staff HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, April 13, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children may soon be eligible to receive federally funded health care.

President Joe Biden on Thursday announced the extension of eligibility for Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act health insurance exchanges to those in DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“Today, my administration is announcing our plan to expand health coverage for Dreamers, the thousands of young people brought to the U.S. as kids,” Biden said in a Tweet announcing the change. “We’re not done fighting for their pathway to citizenship, but we’re getting them the opportunities they deserve in the meantime.”

While other classes of immigrants, such as those with temporary protected status and asylum seekers, can already purchase health insurance as part of the Affordable Care Act, the DACA participants have not had the opportunity because they do not meet the definition of having “lawful presence” in the United States.

DACA, created in 2012, was meant to give children illegally brought to this country by their parents the opportunity to work legally and not be deported. They pay taxes, but they do not receive the same benefits as U.S. citizens. About 580,000 people were still enrolled in DACA in late 2022, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“Evidence indicates that coverage expansions like this improve health outcomes and help rectify the systematic exclusion of immigrants from our health care system — an exclusion that drives and exacerbates racial and economic health inequities,” Jamila Michener, an associate professor of government and policy at Cornell University and codirector of the Cornell Center for Health Equity, said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. “There are also broader benefits to the entire health care system. Having sizable groups of people who live, work, go to school, and make their home in the U.S. but cannot access vital health benefits is bad for everyone. It makes preventative care less accessible, thus driving up the cost of emergency care. It proliferates sickness and vulnerability in ways that harm families, communities, and local economies. No one wins when immigrants cannot readily access health care.”

Associated Press Article

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