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Add DACA Healthcare to Your Monthly Bills

Dreamers set to enroll in Obamacare courtesy of the US taxpayer.

In the never-ending list of what American taxpayers are expected to fund comes a new scheme to allow immigrants known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients to enroll in Obamacare. The Biden administration announced the plan on Friday, May 3, and it will take effect on November 1, 2024, just a few days before the big election. Is this DACA healthcare plan just a craven ploy by the president to appeal to the Hispanic voting bloc, a part of the electorate in which polls show he is losing support?

If it isn’t, a skeptic might not be faulted for thinking it certainly has that appearance. The White House announcement for the new program stated: “Dreamers are our loved ones, our nurses, teachers, and small business owners. And they deserve the promise of health care just like all of us.” Unsaid, of course, is that deserving something and being able to afford it are two different things.

This wasn’t the administration’s original proposal. Initially, it wanted to extend Medicaid benefits to the Dreamers, but White House officials claim that was scrapped “after receiving more than 20,000 comments on the proposal”, according to a report by ABC News. It has been widely reported that the administration expects approximately 100,000 DACA recipients to sign up, though it is unclear how they came to that number. (The announcement from the White House says there are currently 800,000 Dreamers in the US.) Still, Healthcare coverage for this amount of people is expected to cost in the neighborhood of $240 million for 2025 and $300 million for 2026.

DACA Healthcare – Dreaming the Dream

Dreamers are immigrants who were brought into the country as children. The entire DACA program remains in the US court system. It began under President Obama, was slated for extinction under President Trump, and has been ping-ponging across the US court landscape since then. Because of this legal tangle, The Hill reports, “the federal government is barred from adding new beneficiaries to DACA.” But that doesn’t mean the current Dreamers are going anywhere. Apparently, this doesn’t stop the president from handing out DACA healthcare, either.

Conservatives have been quite vocal about their displeasure with the plan on the social media platform X. Replying to a post by former Trump advisor Stephen Miller, SamJ wrote: “Someone should tell Biden that Americans have dreams too: a secure and prosperous America ….a wealthy middle class….no ILLEGALS…” X poster David G. Miller chimed in with: “Once again the Biden regime continues to fight Against the AMERICAN TAXPAYER!!!” Someone who goes by “Restoring Our Republic” remarked, “My last check-up was over 10 years ago, and I still can’t afford healthcare, yet I get taxed to death. Lovely news.” Yet another cried, “Is this even legal?”

The short answer is, well … maybe – but in the meantime, the administration has cleverly accomplished an end run around Congress. A White House official claims additional money is not needed, which means Congress does not have to pass legislation to fund it. This could only indicate there is Monopoly money hanging around – perhaps a presidential community chest?

Although DACA was created in 2012, the status of those brought into the country as children remains in limbo. Meanwhile, those seeking asylum or having temporary protected status can get their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

Some may wonder why the White House pulled the trigger on the deal now. “It comes as federal health officials have pushed out a flurry of rules in recent weeks as the administration closes in on a deadline under the Congressional Review Act, which allows lawmakers to overturn recently finalized rules,” according to a Politico report.

When President Trump tried to ditch the DACA program during his tenure in office, the US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against the administration. However, in 2018, US District Judge Andrew S. Hanen declared the memo by the Department of Homeland Security that initially created the program “exceeded its authority and violated federal procedural rules,” according to the LA Times. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the judge’s ruling, but it also gave the Biden administration another bite at the apple to rewrite the DHS rule. Thus, handing out DACA healthcare to a group may only gum up the works even further. Nevertheless, the injunction remains in place, as does DACA, which means this latest move by the administration is ripe to become yet another court case.

Read More From Leesa K. Donner

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