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Biden Giving Healthcare To Who?

The Biden administration introduced a new regulation on Friday that grants certain “Dreamers” access to the ObamaCare marketplace, expanding healthcare coverage for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Under this new rule, active DACA recipients can now enroll in qualified health plans or basic health plans offered through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and they may also qualify for various financial aids.

Neera Tanden, director of the Domestic Policy Council, emphasized the significance of this rule, stating, “This final rule reflects the president’s key commitment to protecting ‘Dreamers’ and DACA recipients. He is focused on providing them with the support they need to thrive and reach their fullest potential.” She added, “This final rule also reflects the president’s belief that health care is a right — not a privilege — for all Americans, that it should extend to DACA recipients just like the rest of us.”

This policy change comes amid ongoing debates and potential executive actions regarding immigration. While immigration policies often spark controversy, “Dreamers”—undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as minors—tend to receive wider public support.

However, the legal status of DACA remains uncertain. Although the Supreme Court thwarted Trump administration efforts to dismantle DACA, a Texas federal judge has challenged the program’s legality. The Supreme Court is expected to ultimately determine the program’s fate. Currently, no new DACA applications are being accepted, and as of September, there were 544,690 active recipients, with an estimated 1,161,000 eligible individuals in 2022.

Previously, DACA recipients were excluded from ObamaCare benefits, unlike other foreign nationals in deferred action programs, due to their status not being considered “lawfully present” under existing health care laws. This led many without employer-provided insurance or the ability to self-finance to lack coverage.

The new rule, which CMS estimates will allow 100,000 newly eligible DACA recipients to enroll in healthcare plans, is set to take effect on November 1, starting with a 60-day special enrollment period designed to align with the ACA’s open enrollment.

Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services, highlighted the importance of this change, saying, “Dreamers as DACA recipients are currently three times more likely to be uninsured than the general U.S. population, and individuals without health insurance are less likely to receive preventative or routine health screenings. 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.”

While the rule does not extend Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program eligibility to DACA recipients, it does make them eligible for existing financial aid programs for noncitizens who qualify.

Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, CMS Administrator, affirmed, “The Biden-Harris Administration believes health care is a right, not a privilege, and that extends to DACA recipients who have built their lives in the United States. Today’s rule reduces barriers for DACA recipients to obtain health care coverage and is a vital step toward making certain that it is available and accessible to all Americans.”

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