Congress Said Illegal Aliens Could Not Qualify for Obamacare. Biden Says They Can.
Under our constitutional form of government, the Legislative Branch makes laws and the Executive Branch implements them. Presidents have always had some leeway in determining how to implement laws passed by Congress, but in recent years we have seen presidents completely subvert laws (or ignore them entirely) through executive orders or through the rule-making process.
The latest attempt by the Biden administration to subvert the intent of Congress came in April, when the administration announced its intention to allow Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients to qualify for subsidized health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. When the ACA was being considered in 2010, Congress debated whether illegal aliens should be eligible for benefits under the programs. They reached an affirmative decision: No. Only people who are “lawfully present” in the United States would be eligible for health coverage under the ACA. A majority of lawmakers felt that granting benefits to illegal aliens would send the wrong message and would also unfairly burden American taxpayers because illegal aliens tended to have low incomes and would therefore qualify for hefty subsidies.
The question of eligibility for DACA beneficiaries never came up, for the simple reason that former President Barack Obama did not (in another blatant example of executive overreach) create the program until two years later, in 2012. By his own admission, Obama acknowledged that DACA beneficiaries are still illegal aliens, but the status meant that the federal government would defer any effort to remove them from the country.
When the question of whether DACA recipients would be considered lawfully present for the purpose of ACA eligibility, the Obama Administration published a brief amendment to earlier implementing regulations clarifying that DACA recipients were not, in fact, eligible for ACA exchanges. The amendment states: “Exception. An individual with deferred action under the Department of Homeland Security’s deferred action for childhood arrivals process, as described in the Secretary of Homeland Security’s June 15, 2012, memorandum, shall not be considered to be lawfully present with respect to any of the above categories in paragraphs (1) through (7) of this definition.”
President Biden was, of course, serving as vice president when the amendment excluding DACA recipients from ACA coverage was written. Nevertheless, under this latest move to reward illegal immigration the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) intends to remove the DACA exception, and therefore render DACA recipients “lawfully present” for purposes of obtaining benefits under the ACA as well as certain Medicaid programs. Some 580,000 illegal aliens currently hold DACA status. Initial cost estimates indicate that granting them access to health coverage under the ACA could add another $1.5 billion in costs, to the $151 billion already incurred by American taxpayers to provide benefits and services to illegal aliens and their dependents.