By Felicia J. Persaud
News Americas, FORT LAUDERDALE, FL, April 21, 2023: For many Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, (DACA recipients, also known as “Dreamers,” access to affordable healthcare has been a significant challenge. These immigrants have often been forced to go without insurance or rely on emergency room visits as their only source of medical care.
So, it was great to hear last week from President Joe Biden that DACA recipients will soon be able to access Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid benefits. With this new policy, DACA recipients will be able to enroll in Medicaid and other ACA plans and gain access to primary care, preventative services, and prescription medications.
This decision will have a significant impact on the approximately 600,000 DACA recipients and their U.S. citizen children who will be able to secure and purchase health insurance through the ACA.
The proposed rule submitted by CMS amends the definition of “lawful presence” to include DACA recipients, also known as “Dreamers,” for eligibility for Medicaid and marketplace coverage. Medicaid and exchange applications will have their eligibility verified electronically when they apply for coverage, the administration said.
“Health care should be a right, not a privilege, and my administration’s worked hard to expand health care. And today, more Americans have health insurance than ever,” President Biden said in a pre-recorded video announcing the decision.
The good news is also that the administration expects to have the new policy in place by the end of the month. Several states, including California, New York and Minnesota, already cover DACA recipients through Medicaid. However, they have been unable to receive federal matching dollars for the coverage and have had to pull from their own state coffers. Other states have taken creative approaches to expand health insurance access for immigrants, such as Colorado’s new OmniSalud program, which allows people to purchase health insurance through the state marketplace without disclosing their immigration status and potentially receive state subsidies to help with premium costs.
To apply for these benefits once the policy is approved, DACA recipients will likely need to follow a few simple steps. First, they will likely have to confirm that they meet the eligibility requirements for Medicaid or an ACA plan. To do this, they will need to visit the healthcare.gov website or call the marketplace call center at 1-800-318-2596. They will likely need to provide information about their income and immigration status. They will also need to provide personal information, including their name, address, and social security number, as well as information about their income and household size.
Once their application is processed, DACA recipients will then be able to choose from a variety of health insurance plans offered through the ACA marketplace. They can compare plans based on cost, benefits, and provider networks to find the plan that best meets their needs.
In addition to Medicaid and ACA plans, DACA recipients may also be eligible for other health care programs, such as community health centers, which provide primary care services on a sliding scale based on income. They can find a community health center near them by visiting the Health Resources and Services Administration website.
Overall, the new policy granting access to ACA and Medicaid benefits is a significant victory for DACA recipients and their families. It will help to ensure that they have access to quality, affordable healthcare and can live healthy and productive lives. It is left to be seen which of the red states will challenge the administration on this move once it becomes a reality.
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.com – The Black Immigrant Daily News.