Nation’s Leading Cancer Patient Advocacy Organization Supports Expanding Access to Affordable Health Insurance for DACA Recipients

Proposed Rule Would Make DACA Recipients Eligible for Coverage through Health Insurance Marketplaces, Medicaid and CHIP

June 23, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 23, 2023 – The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) submitted comments today supporting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ proposed rule to expand federal insurance coverage eligibility to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

If finalized, the rule will amend the definition of “lawfully present” in the United States, for the purposes of Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Affordable Care Act coverage, to include DACA recipients, making individuals eligible to apply for coverage through all health insurance marketplaces -- including federally-facilitated and state-based marketplaces -- where they may qualify for subsidies based on income, or through their state Medicaid or CHIP programs, for the first time. ACS CAN supports 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.

“All people should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, detect, treat and survive 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 thousands of individuals for more than a decade. We urge HHS to finalize the rule as proposed before the 2024 open enrollment season begins to help reverse this health care injustice.”

There are more than 580,000 DACA recipients in the U.S., and according to the Center for Migration Studies, over 200,000 of them were essential workers during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Yet, their immigration status prohibits them from being eligible for affordable health care available through health insurance marketplaces, CHIP and Medicaid. DACA recipients are nearly three times as likely to be uninsured than the general U.S. population. HHS estimates that about 34% of DACA recipients do not have health insurance coverage and that if the proposed rule were finalized, approximately 129,000 DACA recipients would enroll in coverage via a health insurance marketplace, CHIP or Medicaid. 


“ACS CAN believes everyone, including DACA recipients, should have access to affordable care and comprehensive health insurance coverage, which ensures people can detect and treat diseases like cancer earlier. Early detection leads to better outcomes and fewer costs for patients and the larger health care system and promotes a healthy and productive workforce. Only when all individuals have a fair and just opportunity to be healthy and stay healthy can we reach our goal to end cancer as we know it, for everyone,” said Lacasse.

Read the full submitted comments.




Media Contacts

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