DACA recipients get access to low-cost health care coverage under new Biden rule

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks about health care and prescription drug costs at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Wednesday, March 15, 2023, in Las Vegas. Biden's administration will announce on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023, the first prescription drugs being targeted by the U.S. government for price negotiations as part of an effort to lower Medicare costs. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

By Jannelle Calderón

May 6, 2024

More than a third of the nation’s 530,000 DACA recipients do not have health insurance, according to the federal government. Nevada is home to about 10,500 Dreamers.

The Biden Administration on Friday announced a new rule expanding health care coverage for immigrants protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by updating the eligibility requirements for the Affordable Care Act.

Starting in November, eligible DACA recipients in Nevada will be able to enroll in the state’s marketplace, Nevada Health Link. Previously, DACA recipients were not allowed to enroll in the reduced-cost plans, also known as Obamacare, but they could receive health insurance from an employer, or buy private insurance.

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates this rule could lead to up to 100,000 previously uninsured DACA recipients nationwide to enroll in health coverage. The new policy is an effort from the Biden administration to provide Dreamers with “the opportunities and support they need to succeed, including access to affordable, quality health care coverage.”

As of December 2023, there are about 530,000 active DACA recipients in the country, with about 10,500 living in Nevada, according to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“More than one third of DACA recipients currently do not have health insurance, so making them eligible to enroll in coverage will improve their health and wellbeing, and help the overall economy,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in a statement.

According to an analysis by the United Health Foundation, the state uninsured rate as of 2022 was 11%, which was higher than the national rate of 8%, although the report does not break down by immigration status.

The new policy becomes effective on Nov. 1, when open enrollment begins, and coverage for eligible applicants could begin as early as Dec. 1.

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Efforts to improve the Obama-era DACA program — which offers deportation protection and work permits to immigrants who were illegally brought to the US as children or overstayed a visa — has been an uphill battle.

After 12 years, DACA still does not have a pathway for recipients to become citizens, forcing recipients into a cycle of renewal, delays, and uncertainty. And new applications cannot be approved after a Texas judge ruled DACA unlawful in 2021 and again in September 2023.

The Biden Administration appealed the decision to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last November and it is currently under review.

“The thousands of Dreamers who live, work, and go to school in our great state of Nevada deserve to have peace of mind, and I won’t stop pushing for a permanent fix and a pathway to citizenship for Nevada’s Dreamers.” said Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) in a statement.

  • Jannelle Calderón

    Jannelle Calderón is a bilingual politics and community multimedia reporter with a passion to highlight the human side to policy and issues as well as showcasing the vibrant cultures found in Southern Nevada. She previously reported for The Nevada Independent and graduated from UNLV.



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