Jun 26, 2023 | Children, Health


WASHINGTON — A comment submitted Friday brought 424 organizations together in supporting expanded health care access for people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The comment was coordinated by the Protecting Immigrant Families coalition (PIF) and submitted in response to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposal that would cover nearly 130,000 people who are uninsured today.

“It’s simple – our country is healthier when the people in our country can get the care they need,” said PIF Coalition director Adriana Cadena. “The Biden proposal would improve health care access and equity, and we urge the Administration to finalize it quickly.”

The comment notes that covering uninsured people with DACA would also improve health care access for their United States citizen relatives.

“About 29 percent of people with DACA are parents, the majority to U.S. citizen kids,” the comment notes. “Children are more likely to have insurance coverage when their parents are also insured and a parent’s receipt of health care services often dictates that of their children.”

Under the proposal, people with DACA would receive subsidized health coverage in the health insurance marketplaces, like other lawfully present people. It would also support state reforms expanding health coverage for immigrant families. California, New York, and other states cover people with DACA under the federal-state Medicaid program, using only state funds.

“This change will provide federal matching funds for states that opt to provide Medicaid or CHIP coverage to pregnant people or children with DACA,” the comment notes. “Funds that states save could be used to provide state-only funded coverage to others who are uninsured.”

The PIF comment also urges HHS to expedite deployment of the regulatory change. The HHS proposal would make the change effective November 1 – the first day of the next Open Enrollment Period for Affordable Care Act Exchanges. The PIF comment urges HHS to give states the option to implement it on the day the final regulation is published in the Federal Register, but no later than November 1.

“People with DACA and their families have waited too long for the health care every family should have,” said Cadena. “The sooner we put that care within reach, the sooner we can build a healthy nation where everyone can thrive.”