ACS CAN Applauds Expanding Access to Affordable Health Insurance for DACA Recipients

New rule makes DACA recipients eligible for coverage through health insurance marketplaces

May 3, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 3, 2024 – Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finalized a new rule to expand insurance coverage eligibility to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) submitted comments last year supporting the proposed rule because it would remove barriers to accessing health care services, which is critical to reducing health disparities and saving more lives from cancer.

The final rule amends the definition of “lawfully present” in the United States to include DACA recipients for the purposes of the Affordable Care Act tax credits and subsidies. However, it does not move forward with its original proposal to make DACA recipients eligible to qualify for the Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs.

“ACS CAN believes everyone, including DACA recipients, should have access to affordable and comprehensive health insurance coverage, which ensures people can prevent, detect, treat and survive diseases like cancer,” said Lisa A. Lacasse, president of ACS CAN. “Excluding DACA recipients from the ‘lawfully present’ definition has created unfair and unnecessary health care disparities for hundreds of thousands of individuals for over a decade. We commend HHS for taking action to reverse this health care injustice so that DACA recipients can have the peace of mind that health care coverage brings. However, we remain concerned that those with the lowest incomes will not have access to Medicaid or CHIP coverage, which has more protections for those with extremely limited incomes.”

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 47% of individuals likely eligible for DACA were uninsured. Under previous regulations, DACA recipients were ineligible to enroll in health insurance marketplaces, CHIP and Medicaid due to their immigration status. Now that the rule is finalized, approximately 100,000 previously uninsured DACA recipients are expected to enroll in coverage. 

“Having comprehensive and affordable health insurance coverage is a key determinant for surviving diseases like cancer. Only when all individuals have a fair and just opportunity to get and stay healthy can we achieve our vision of ending cancer as we know it, for everyone,” said Lacasse.

Media Contacts

Trista Hargrove
Director, Media Advocacy - Health Equity
Priscilla Cabral-Perez
Associate Director, Regional Multicultural Media Advocacy