DACA recipients could get access to health care coverage in new Biden administration plan

Published: Tuesday, April 18, 2023 - 8:34am
Updated: Tuesday, April 18, 2023 - 10:29am
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Recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, could be eligible for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act in a new plan proposed by the Biden administration this month.

The Obama-era DACA program gives some undocumented people brought to the U.S. as kids temporary protection from deportation and a work permit, but no path to citizenship.  It was established in 2012 and has benefitted more than 800,000 young people since then, including more than 20,000 Arizona residents. The Affordable Care Act was enacted two years before that, in 2010, but DACA recipients have been barred from it and other, federally-funded programs,  like tuition aid for low income students. 

In a video on Twitter, President Biden said many DACA recipients are business owners, essential workers, and military service-members. He said Congress should pass immigration reform to offer a citizenship path, but until then, his administration was moving to allow DACA recipients access to Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act. 

In an announcement about the plan, the White House said the Department of Health and Human Services was working on a proposed rule it expected to complete by the end of this month that would allow DACA recipients to apply for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace and their state's Medicaid agency.

"The Department of Health and Human Services will shortly propose a rule amending the definition of 'lawful presence,' for purposes of Medicaid and Affordable Care Act coverage, to include DACA recipients," the statement read. "If finalized, the rule will make DACA recipients eligible for these programs for the first time."

Mario Montoya is a DACA recipient and research analyst with immigrants-rights group Aliento. He joined The Show to talk more about the move.

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Hear Mario Montoya of Aliento discuss DACA with host Lauren Gilger on The Show