Approximately 580,000 people in New Jersey and around the country are enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that President Barack Obama established by executive order in 2012. These people are known as Dreamers, and DACA allows them to live and work in the United States even though they entered the country illegally when they were children. However, Dreamers do not have access to subsidized health care because their presence in the United States is considered unlawful. On April 13, President Joe Biden announced that this may soon be changing.
Medicaid and the ACA
President Biden has tasked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with drafting a new immigration rule that will provide Dreamers with access to Medicaid and subsidized medical coverage from the Health Insurance Marketplace. The health Insurance Marketplace was created following the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Advocacy groups have been calling for such a rule because about one in three Dreamers do not currently have health insurance coverage. The White House expects the new rule to be implemented by the end of April.
The Biden administration’s efforts to provide Dreamers with access to health care has bipartisan support in Congress, but officials expect pushback from states that opposed DACA and have not expanded Medicaid. The federal government provides some of the funding for Medicaid, but the program is administered by the states. Conservative leaders are also harshly critical of the current administration’s immigration policy. Asylum seekers and immigrants with temporary protected status are already able to purchase government-subsidized health insurance.
DACA has been mired in legal challenges for a decade, and lawsuits are still making their way through the federal court system. Enrollment was halted when a federal judge ruled that President Obama exceeded his authority when he created DACA, but the program still protects almost 600,000 Dreamers. The proposed DHSS rule will provide people who have lived in the United States for almost their entire lives access to affordable health care, which is something that asylum seekers and immigrants from dangerous and unstable countries already have.