Background: Despite progress made by the Obama administration to help improve the lives of low-income immigrants, its recent decision to exclude young, healthy individuals who are DREAMers from affordable health care is a huge step backwards. In July 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’s definition of “lawfully present” for the purposes of eligibility under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) included individuals granted deferred action. However, HHS recently announced an exception to this policy that restricts DACA recipients from being defined as ‘lawfully present’. While DACA recipients can legally stay in the U.S., they will not be covered for pre-existing conditions, will not be able to participate in the healthcare exchanges, will not be able to receive Medicaid or other state or federal health benefits, and will not be able to participate in the Children’s Health Program. Apparently, the administration made this announcement to show that the DACA program does not alter the promises the administration made that undocumented immigrants would not benefit from the ACA.
How you can help: Take a stand against this harmful decision by sending written comments to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) before October 29. To get you started, below are some model comments that you can modify and add to. The more comments HHS receives from people of faith and faith-based organizations in particular, the more they will understand that the faith community wants to see DREAMers provided the same access to health care as U.S. citizens as well as others who are granted deferred action.
Send your comments via U.S. mail or electronically at www.regulations.gov (search for the August 30 rule related to DACA) before the deadline — midnight EDT, October 29, 2012.
Also, please share this email with your networks, friends, and neighbors, and ask them to send their own letters. Thank you for helping in this effort! For additional information or resources, visit www.nilc.org or www.weownthedream.org, or call 1-855-DREAM-31 (1-855-373-2631).
October XX, 2012
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Department of Health and Human Services
P.O. Box 8016
Baltimore, MD 21244–8016
RE: CMS–9995–IFC2, Comments on CMS’ Interim Final Rule Changes to Definition of “Lawfully Present” in the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan Program of the Affordable Care Act of 2010
As a person of faith committed to welcoming the stranger and to humane reform of our immigration system, I urge you allow individuals receiving relief through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to qualify for coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
I was very excited and supportive of the administration’s announcement to provide a way for DREAMers to apply for deferred action. Denying them access to the reforms made in the Affordable Care Act, however, does nothing but place another obstacle in front of their American Dream.
Other groups who are offered deferred action qualify for coverage under the ACA. HHS’s July 2010 definition of “lawfully present” for the eligibility under the Affordable Care Act included those granted deferred action. However, HHS recently announced an exception that restricts DACA recipients from being considered ‘lawfully present’. I urge the administration to delete this exemption immediately.
Excluding DREAMers from coverage undercuts the spirit of both DACA and the ACA. The goals of DACA are that DREAM Act eligible youth can live in the U.S. without fear of deportation and work to provide for themselves and their families. The recent announcement from the HHS sends a mixed-message – DACA recipients can work, but cannot buy health insurance – thereby undermining their ability to participate and contribute fully to the economy and to their communities.
Opponents of DACA have already demonstrated their willingness to deny services, drivers’ licenses, and in-state tuition to DREAMers. We believe that these policies – including restrictions to health care coverage – are discriminatory, and that youth granted DACA relief should not be singled out from individuals granted deferred action through other avenues.
I urge you, in the spirit of fully embracing immigrant youth as valued members of our society, to include DACA recipients in ACA coverage. This would be consistent with the ACA’s goals of expanding coverage and reducing overall health care costs, and ensure that DACA recipients remain healthy individuals as they seek to make the most of the education and employment opportunities offered under deferred action.
Thank you for your time and attention to these comments.
[NAME / ORGANIZATION /CITY & STATE / CONTACT INFO]
Please forward or CC your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign the Petition to Tell the White House that we must Ensure DREAMers have Access to Affordable Care