April 13, 2023

After Urging from Congressman Castro, HHS Moves to Grant ACA and Medicaid Access to DACA Recipients

SAN ANTONIO – Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, following his request, moved to grant access to Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid coverage and financial assistance to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients:

“For more than ten years, hundreds of thousands of young Americans have been unfairly excluded from the affordable health insurance they need. Today’s announcement will give DACA recipients access to the same care as their neighbors and build healthier communities for all of us. In the wake of a pandemic that disproportionately affected immigrant and frontline families, this long-overdue expansion is welcome news,” said Congressman Castro.

Since the beginning of the Biden administration, Congressman Castro has pushed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to expand access to coverage for DACA recipients. In 2021, Castro led more than 90 House members in a letter calling on President Biden and then acting HHS Secretary Norris Cochran to grant access to ACA benefits for DACA recipients in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In November 2022, Congressman Castro and Senator Cory Booker (N.J.) also led members of the House and Senate in a letter urging HHS to rescind federal regulations that exclude DACA recipients from eligibility for health insurance subsidies and coverage. The letter additionally asked HHS to issue a State Health Officials letter clarifying DACA recipients’ eligibility for Medicaid and CHIP. In their November letter, lawmakers wrote:

“Making ACA coverage and financial assistance available to DACA recipients would advance the goals of the ACA and benefit the American people. Under DACA, immigrant youth with long term residency in the United States who satisfy a strict set of criminal background and educational criteria are eligible for employment authorization and protection from deportation. Rescission of 45 C.F.R. § 152.2(8) would grant access to the ACA for the approximately 650,000 current DACA recipients and could ultimately benefit over a million individuals as the DACA program resumes. The regulation excludes a significant pool of young, healthy adults— the exact type of participants that Congress sought to encourage to secure and purchase health insurance under the ACA. These barriers to health coverage force many individuals and families to go without the health care they need, including essential preventive services and life-saving treatments. They also exacerbate existing health inequities that all immigrant communities face and especially immigrants of color. Moreover, the current regulation leads to worse health outcomes for DACA recipients and their families by foreclosing access to health care, including unsubsidized purchases on ACA health insurance marketplace. We strongly encourage HHS to honor our country’s promise of full integration and support of DACA recipients, including access to affordable health care through the ACA by rescinding this regulation.”