Statement on Biden Administration’s Expansion of Health Care Access to DACA Recipients

SACRAMENTO, CA – Below is a statement from Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, in response to President Biden’s announcement today to designate all DACA recipients as “lawfully present”, therefore giving them full access to health care coverage through Medicaid and ACA health insurance marketplaces like Covered California.

California is home to approximately 165,000 DACA recipients, about a quarter of all recipients nationwide, according to recent estimates from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Those who are income-eligible are already able to enroll in Medi-Cal (our state’s version of Medicaid), but the new rule would mean more federal funding for California to provide health coverage for this group. The new rule will also allow these Californians access to health coverage and affordability assistance through California’s state exchange, Covered California.

“We applaud the President’s action today to expand health care coverage to those Americans who are here under DACA. Once in effect, this new federal rule would expand affordable health care access to tens of thousands of Californians who would finally get the same options and affordability assistance in Covered California as everyone else,” said Jose Torres Casillas, Policy and Legislative Advocate for Health Access California. “As a result, these Dreamers and their families will have more financial and health security, with access to primary and preventive care that strengthen our public health and health system for everyone.

“These federal efforts align with the long-time work in California to ensure health care access to all regardless of immigration status. California has made great strides to remove immigration-related barriers to coverage, and starting in January of next year, every income-eligible Californian will be able to enroll in Medi-Cal. However, even with this action, hundreds of thousands of undocumented Californians are still barred from accessing Covered California, even to buy coverage with their own money. This new rule from the Biden Administration will remove this unfair exclusion for DACA recipients, but we still need pending state-level legislation to open Covered California to all regardless of immigration status.”

Assembly Bill 4, authored by Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula of Fresno, advanced out of the Assembly Health Committee this past Tuesday, and would seek a federal waiver to open our state exchange to all Californians without exclusions due to immigration status.