Health Equity and Immigrant Health

Health Disparities, Immigrant Rights

Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR) and our pro bono allies recently submitted a comment letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in support of expanding access to affordable health care for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a humanitarian immigration program.

In the comment letter, LCR emphasized the fact that DACA recipients have contributed substantially to the economy, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, where they served as essential workers on the frontlines as physicians, medical students, teachers, and workers in the transportation, manufacturing, and waste management industries, putting themselves at great risk for the benefit of others.

At the same time as they were making these vital contributions, DACA recipients received less in terms of health care benefits, being ineligible to enroll in Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Programs, and Qualified Health Plans through an Affordable Care Act Exchange. This disparity must change, and LCR supports HHS’s efforts to begin that change through the Proposed Rule.

Providing DACA recipients with access to these health care programs would:

●      reduce overall costs to the health care system, 

●      increase DACA recipients’ economic productivity, and 

●      improve health equity in the United States.

Under current circumstances, DACA recipients are not eligible to enroll in these health care programs because DACA recipients do not fall within HHS’s present, narrow definition of “lawfully present” in the United States. Implementing the Proposed Rule would clarify that definition to include DACA recipients, going forward.

LCR will continue to monitor the implementation of the Proposed Rule to support the fair and equitable treatment of DACA recipients. 

Click here to download the comment letter: