Biden Administration Wants to Redefine “Lawful” and Make Americans Pay for It
When Congress approved the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 it explicitly barred illegal aliens from receiving taxpayer-subsidized coverage under the program. But like countless other laws intended to discourage and penalize illegal immigration, the Biden administration is now attempting to make an end-run around this restriction through executive action.
The administration’s latest proposal attempts to redefine “lawful presence” for Affordable Care Act and Medicaid programs, allowing the nearly 580,000 individuals with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status to take advantage of taxpayer-funded medical insurance despite lacking any legal status. DACA recipients remain illegal aliens, even though enrollment in the program temporarily exempts them from removal. This fast-tracked change, if it succeeds, would make a mockery of federal immigration laws while potentially adding billions to the nearly $200 billion that illegal immigration costs Americans every year.
This change directly violates laws that protect the American taxpayer from being responsible for paying for illegal aliens. Section 401 of the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), signed into law by President Bill Clinton, specifically excludes illegal aliens from receiving non-emergency federal Medicaid. Meanwhile, section 1312(f)(3) of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) specifically prevents people who are not lawfully present from enrolling in ACA exchanges. DACA is an illegal executive program that was created by President Barack Obama two years after the enactment of the ACA. Attempting to expand Medicaid and access to ACA exchanges to illegal alien participants in the DACA program is a clear violation of both the spirit and letter of the law.
In the unlikely event this change survives a court challenge, it would only add to the burden that illegal immigration imposes on American taxpayers. According to a recent estimate by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 46 percent of DACA-eligible individuals are not employed, and a similar percentage live in relative poverty which would likely allow them access to Medicaid if this change is approved.
The federal government spends an average of nearly $6,000 per adult under 65 receiving Medicaid coverage. Even if only the poorest uninsured DACA recipients enrolled at rates similar to American citizens under this proposal, it could cost the government up to $1.24 billion annually. If every DACA recipient enrolled in the programs made available, it could cost as much as $3 billion a year – something the Biden administration appears to have no issue with. This shows that even “minor” changes like this can have dramatic fiscal impacts.
There is no issue of unclear intent here; the Biden administration is attempting to gaslight the American public by saying that laws specifically written to keep illegal aliens from burdening our social programs instead somehow include them. Two plus two does not equal five, and people participating in DACA, a program that requires them to be unlawfully present in order to enroll, cannot be declared lawfully present simply for the purpose of gaining public benefits.