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.
That made it great to hear from President Joe Biden last week that DACA recipients will soon be able to access the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid benefits. With this new policy, DACA recipients will be able to gain access to primary care, preventive services, and prescription medications.
This decision will have a significant impact on the approximately 600,000 DACA recipients and their US citizen children who will now be able to secure and purchase health insurance through the ACA.
The proposed rule submitted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) amends the definition of “lawful presence” to include DACA recipients for eligibility for Medicaid and marketplace coverage. Medicaid and exchange applications will have to verify their eligibility electronically when they apply for coverage, the administration said.
”Healthcare should be a right, not a privilege, and my administration’s worked hard to expand healthcare. And today, more Americans have health insurance than ever,” President Biden said in a pre-recorded video announcing the decision.
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The good news also includes that the administration expects to have a 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, so they have had to pull funding 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 receiving state subsidies to help with premium costs.
To apply for these benefits once the policy is approved, DACA recipients will probably have to follow a few simple steps, such as confirming that they meet the eligibility requirements for Medicaid or an ACA plan. To do this, they will involve going to the healthcare.gov website or contact the marketplace call center at 800-318-2596. They probably will also have to provide information about their income and immigration status, as well as personal information, including 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 healthcare 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 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.