On July 18th, 2023, the Subcommittee on Health Care and Financial Services held a hearing, “Why Expanding Medicaid to DACA Recipients Will Exacerbate the Border Crisis” to discuss the potential impacts on Medicaid expansion. Chairwoman McClain (R-MI) argued Medicaid expansion to DACA recipients is illegal, not supported by the American people, and high costs using American taxpayer money, while Ranking Member Porter (D-CA) explained that DACA recipients are lawfully present in the United States and should be covered by Medicaid. Dr. Ellen Montz, Deputy Administrator and Director for Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) gave an update on CMS’s work on equalizing heath care by addressing a unique barrier for DACA recipients. She further explained the proposed change to no longer exclude DACA recipients from CMS definition of lawfully present would follow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) definition of lawful presence and DHS explanation of the definition August 2022 final rule of DACA. Immigrants that came to the United States after 2007 are not eligible for DACA.

Generally, Democrats noted the proposed change should go into effect due to DACA recipients paying local, state, and federal taxes and alleviating a point of discrimination against recipients, while Republicans claimed the proposed change would promote illegal immigration, heighten taxes of their constituents, and would further the debt of the country. Democrats further argued that because eligibility for DACA ended in 2007, expanding Medicaid coverage to DACA recipients would not incentivize people to immigrate to the United States because they would not qualify for DACA and thus would not automatically receive the expanded health coverage. In her closing statement, Representative Lee (D-PA) expressed her frustration that this hearing was held, as it is not an issue of immigration, and insuring more people promotes overall public health.

By Ellison Olson and Leah Sarfity, Policy Interns