Apr 13, 2023



Cheasty Anderson, cheasty@pifcoalition.org, 919.621.2083

WASHINGTON – Officials announced today that President Biden is preparing to expand Medicaid eligibility and access to ACA subsidies to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) participants by the end of this month. Reacting to this decision, the Protecting Immigrant Families coalition issued the following statement by its director, Adriana Cadena.

“The Biden administration is doing the right thing and advancing racial equity in health access by lifting health insurance eligibility restrictions for DACA participants. We especially applaud the tireless advocacy of those individuals with DACA who helped catalyze this change. This is an important step on the long road to improving affordability and accessibility of public benefits for all immigrants living in the United States. Expanding immigrants’ access to public benefit programs, healthcare, and economic justice is an essential part of building a fair and just future for this country.”

These policy changes will accomplish two things. First, it will allow people enrolled in DACA to access government subsidies on health insurance if they qualify financially for that support. And second, if they live in a state that has opted to provide Medicaid or CHIP coverage for lawfully present children and pregnant people without a waiting period, DACA recipients will no longer be restricted from eligibility based on immigration status. Up until this change, DACA recipients, who work legally and pay taxes, did not meet the definition for having “lawful presence” per ACA regulations.

The DACA program is an Obama-era program designed to protect immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents as young children from deportation. The program requires that qualified individuals register as participants and authorizes participants to work legally in the United States. The DACA program requires that status and work permit be renewed every two years. Nonetheless, DACA participants do not currently qualify as “lawfully present” under some regulations, such as those related to ACA subsidies or Medicaid eligibility.

The Affordable Care Act provides subsidized prices for health insurance on the private health insurance marketplace. Subsidies are determined on a sliding scale based on an applicant’s income. A person with a lower income qualifies for a larger subsidy, and thus a lower monthly payment. A person with a higher income qualifies for a smaller subsidy, and thus pays a higher monthly payment. While the law provides subsidies to citizens and lawfully present immigrants, it does not provide benefits to undocumented immigrants. DACA recipients do not currently meet the standard of “lawfully present” set by this particular regulation. This decision will change that. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will propose a rule amending the definition of lawfully present to include DACA recipients for the purposes of participation in the ACA Health Insurance Marketplace and the Medicaid and CHIP option for pregnant people and children.