Guest post by Max Hadler, Senior Health Policy Manager at the New York Immigration Coalition. On Tuesday, September 5, the Trump administration announced that it was terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months. The announcement sets in motion a process to further disrupt the lives of 800,000 individuals who President Trump has been threatening since he launched his campaign in 2015. Created by an executive order signed by President Barack Obama in 2012, DACA provides two-year work authorizations and deferral of deportation to DREAMers – people who came to the U.S. before the age of 16, have resided in the country continuously since 2007, do not have a criminal record, and have either graduated from high school, are currently enrolled in an educational program, or have served in the U.S. military.
The cruelty and inhumanity of Trump’s DACA decision have serious health implications. Most acutely, the stress and anxiety caused by the uncertainty around DACA have created an immediate need for mental health services for recipients and their families. The rescission undermines the powerful emotional healing effect DACA has had on U.S. citizen children with DACAmented mothers, an impact recently highlighted in this Science article.
At a time when DACA recipients most need access to comprehensive health coverage, the termination of the program profoundly threatens their eligibility for any coverage at all. As a result of the work authorizations granted by their DACA status, many of the 42,000 DACAmented New Yorkers are covered by employer-sponsored insurance. Once their work authorizations expire, these individuals will lose access to both their jobs and their health insurance.
The impending end of DACA is particularly important in New York. Our state considers DACA recipients to be “permanently residing under color of law,” or PRUCOL, and thus eligible for state-funded Medicaid. As a result, between 5,000 and 10,000 DACAmented New Yorkers have Medicaid coverage. Many advocates believe there is a legal argument that DACA recipients should still be considered PRUCOL after they lose DACA status, but it remains unclear if the State agrees.
Even without a specific legal underpinning, the state can and should continue to cover this population. The Department of Health seemed to acknowledge this by releasing a statement on Tuesday that read in part, “New York State believes it has a legal and moral obligation to exhaust every available avenue to protect immigrants and their families by providing comprehensive access to health care, regardless of circumstance.”
The Coverage 4 All campaign has proposed a number of solutions for New York State. To start, New York can ensure the continued coverage of DACA recipients through state-financed Medicaid. There are also existing policy proposals that would protect a broader range of young adult immigrants, including those who lose their employer-sponsored insurance. Assembly Bill 8054 would expand the Child Health Plus program to age 29, extending New York’s universal children’s coverage program to young adults currently excluded because of their status, including many of the DREAMers who stand to lose their coverage when their DACA authorizations expire.
The DACA decision is only the latest attack on immigrant communities from the Trump administration. In this hostile environment, it is imperative that New York State take action to meaningfully protect and promote the health coverage of its immigrant residents.
*Anyone in New York City in need of mental health services should call NYC WELL, a hotline staffed by licensed counselors trained to help with anxiety, depression, and other issues. NYC WELL counselors have been specifically trained to work with call-ins related to DACA.
Last night, Senate Republicans failed in their last ditch effort to repeal the ACA and dismantle Medicaid. A huge thank you to our members, partners, and friends for all of your hard work and activism over the last nine months.
Your resistance is the reason they keep failing.
Unfortunately, the fight is not over. The President is still threatening to end Cost Sharing Reduction payments that reduce out of pocket costs for moderate income Americans and there is a House budget proposal that would cut trillions of dollars from Medicaid and other health care and entitlement programs over the next 10 years.
Seven of NY’s Representatives voted to pass an anti-health care bill in the House: Chris Collins, John Faso, Peter King, Tom Reed, Claudia Tenney, and Lee Zeldin. They may soon have another chance to decide our fate through the budget process – this Saturday, show them in person that those first votes were a mistake!
Here’s what you ca do to stay engaged:
- Join people across the country at demonstrations. We already know about events in places like Beacon, Kingston, Delhi, New Hartford, New York City, and Glens Falls. We’ll add events to our eventspage as soon as we learn about them so keep checking!
- You could also plan your own event! The Our Lives on the Linesite has some tools to help you do this, but all you really need to do is show up at your Representatives’ offices with signs or letters telling them not to support any bill that takes health care away from people.
We’ve come so far – and we won’t stop fighting now!
Last week, children’s health advocates from across the country came together in Washington, DC for the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center for Children and Families Annual Conference. The conference provides an excellent opportunity for national and state advocates to share their experiences and learn from one another, which is especially important in the face of the current federal threats to children’s health care.
This year’s conference theme was “Covering Kids and Families: Playing to Win.” Topics included the current political landscape, the future of the Medicaid and CHIP, value-based purchasing, and using effective messaging and social media to win the fight for children’s health coverage. We heard from experts in the field about the state of play in Washington, the impact of perception, race, and bias on Medicaid, expanding health coverage for immigrant children, and avenues for working together with early childhood and education advocates to protect children’s health.
HCFANY’s Children, Youth, and Families Task Force represented New York consumer advocates at the conference. HCFANY’s Kate Breslin, President and CEO of the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, spoke on a panel that highlighted New York’s child-focused value-based purchasing (VBP) initiatives and opportunities for advocates in other states to engage in VBP for children.
The coverage gains and consumer protections achieved under the ACA and the Medicaid program that covers the most vulnerable New Yorkers are all at risk. The Senate could be voting on their Better Health Care Reconciliation Act that would take coverage away from more than 22 million people and end the Medicaid program as we know it as early as next week.
Join HCFANY MONDAY, July 17 at 1:15 PM for the “Take a Stand for Health Care” rally with Governor Andrew Cuomo at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine in New York City to defend the ACA and Medicaid. Please register here.
Icahn School of Medicine
Mt. Sinai Hospital
1468 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10029