Biden Administration Announces End to Bar on Affordable Health Coverage for Immigrant Youth

The following statement can be attributed to Indivar Dutta-Gupta, president and executive director at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

Washington, DC, April 13, 2023–Thanks to a highly consequential announcement today by the Biden Administration, hundreds of thousands of young immigrants may soon finally be able to meet their health care needs. After creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, the Obama Administration specifically made DACA recipients ineligible for Affordable Care Act marketplace coverage and state-level coverage in places that chose to cover lawfully residing pregnant individuals and children under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). 

Because of this flawed decision to exclude DACA recipients, the more than 800,000 young people who have directly benefited from DACA’s provision since the program’s inception have been denied critical access to health coverage available to all other people with deferred action status. The proposed rule announced today would remove those barriers and allow DACA recipients to enroll in health coverage through the ACA Marketplace and Medicaid.

DACA recipients and other immigrant youth are vital to our country’s future. They are health care workers, educators, professionals, organizers, and students. Many are also parents to U.S. citizen children and serve as primary breadwinners for their extended families. After more than a decade of wrongfully barring DACA recipients from affordable health care, this announcement is a long overdue and welcome step in making our health care programs more equitable and effective at supporting communities throughout this country.

Our work is not done until everyone can access the affordable health care they need. We are ready to assist the Biden Administration in implementing this decision, in part through aggressive outreach to potential beneficiaries. Unfortunately, the DACA program itself is at risk of termination by the whims of our courts and is closed to new applicants. We urge the Biden Administration to continue to use every means possible to protect DACA recipients, and we call on Congress to pass legislation to provide them and other immigrant youth the path to citizenship they deserve and our nation needs.