Biden administration issues rule expanding access to DACA health care • New Hampshire Bulletin

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration will release a final rule on Friday that will allow about 100,000 uninsured people in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to enroll in public or private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, administration officials said.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' new rule could offer uninsured DACA recipients the opportunity to enroll in a Health Insurance Marketplace plan or a state Basic Health Program, also known as a BHP, in the few states that do enroll in health insurance These plans are available.

“By providing new opportunities for high-quality, affordable … health care, this rule will give DACA recipients the peace of mind and opportunities that every American deserves,” White House domestic policy adviser Neera Tanden said on a phone call Thursday with reporters previewing the final rule.

Only two states, Minnesota and New York, offer basic health programs. Oregon is expected to be third this year. The program, created under the Affordable Care Act, allows states to offer affordable health insurance to low-income people who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. The programs are almost entirely funded by the federal government.

In a statement, President Joe Biden said DACA recipients, often referred to as Dreamers, deserve access to health coverage.

“Dreamers are our loved ones, our nurses, teachers and small business owners,” Biden said. “And they deserve the promise of health care, just like we all do.”

There are approximately 600,000 DACA recipients who were brought into the country as children without authorization. The Obama-era program protects them from removal.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said about a third of DACA recipients are uninsured.

“DACA recipients are currently three times more likely to be uninsured than the general U.S. population, and those without health insurance … are less likely to receive preventative or routine health screenings,” Becerra said on Thursday's call.

Start date November

The rule takes effect Nov. 1 “to align with the open enrollment period for individual markets in most states and to allow time for necessary operational updates,” according to a fact sheet provided by the White House. The move could affect up to 100,000 DACA recipients, the White House said.

“DACA recipients are no longer excluded from coverage by a quality health insurance plan,” Becerra said.

DACA recipients who qualify to enroll in a Marketplace plan could also be eligible for “advance premium tax credit (APTC) payments and cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) depending on income to reduce the cost of their Marketplace coverage.” the fact sheet.

The rule updates the definition of “qualified noncitizen” for receipt of Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program benefits to clarify the categories of noncitizens eligible for coverage. Otherwise, the rule does not change eligibility for these programs for non-citizens.

A senior administration official also noted that while most DACA recipients have health insurance coverage through their employment, this rule affects all recipients who are uninsured. The administration official spoke to reporters on condition that their names not be used.

DACA recipients are currently awaiting a court case, likely to end up in the Supreme Court, to determine the legality of the program after the Trump administration moved to end it. If the Supreme Court finds the program unlawful, it is unclear what will happen to the program participants.

Anna Harden

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