‘Dreamer’ applauds expansion of health insurance access under new Biden rule

More than a third of immigrants covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, are uninsured, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

UTSA graduate and DACA recipient Andrea Rathbone Ramos says several years ago, she was too.

Rathbone Ramos said it’s why she let a broken bone go untreated for months.

“I knew that it was either going to ruin Christmas for my family and I, or I was going to basically, have to figure out a way to pay for that health care,” she explained. “Like basically either Christmas or health care.”

Rathbone Ramos now has insurance through school and work, which she says was made possible by being a DACA recipient

She and others who were brought to the U.S. as children are shielded from deportation and authorized to work and learn in the U.S.

With the program’s future in limbo, Rathbone Ramos is unsure how long that protection will last.

“It’s almost like that prickly feeling when you’re watching that horror movie of you don’t know when that the big jump scare is going to happen,” she said.

In the meantime, the Biden administration announced a new rule to make DACA recipients, known as Dreamers, eligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimates that 100,000 previously uninsured DACA recipients would enroll.

“It’s a huge thing that this is finally available for us,” said Rathbone Ramos.

She said now, other working Dreamers will be able to reap the benefits they’ve been paying for.

“I’ve seen Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, all of these things are taken out of my paycheck, but I don’t have access to them,” Rathbone Ramos said. “Finally, now I have access to the Affordable Care Act.”

Rathbone Ramos said the new rule gives DACA recipients more freedom.

“You may choose to leave a job that you might have not liked,” she said. “Or, maybe you want to become a stay-at-home parent. Maybe you want to continue going to school, and maybe you couldn’t do that because of those health care needs.”

Trump’s campaign spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt on Friday criticized the decision to allow DACA participants to access healthcare marketplaces, saying the Republican presidential candidate would “seal the border, stop the invasion, and expand economic opportunity for American citizens, not illegal aliens.”

The rule is set to go into effect in November, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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