The announcement that the Biden administration is expanding healthcare coverage to all Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) participants in the United States is a monumental step forward for health equity. It brings our nation closer to fulfilling our belief that health is a basic human right and that the United States, like other nations, has a legal obligation to ensure access to timely, acceptable, and affordable healthcare. For now Children’s Health Fund looks forward to serving even more immigrant children throughout our national network that operates in 15 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.
We also hope that policymakers build on today’s major change and soon follow with additional steps that include:
- Removing waiting periods that bar children who recently immigrated from immediately accessing Medicaid and CHIP.
- Providing more funding for Federally Qualified Health Centers.
- Using state funds to increase access to care for children without documentation in more states throughout the country.
- Developing inclusive plans to ensure that immigrant children have access to social programs that are vital to their health and well-being.
When children receive comprehensive healthcare—medical, dental, mental, and social services—they stand the best chance to thrive and succeed. In addition, providing access to comprehensive healthcare to immigrant children starting as soon as they enter our country will reduce unnecessary and costly emergency room visits and hospitalizations, improve health, and lower costs.
The United States should want to make a discernible difference in the lives of every child who steps foot on our soil. We should want to ensure that all children, regardless of birthplace, have access to proper nutrition, shelter, emotional support, and access to comprehensive healthcare. Otherwise, we must ask ourselves, what do we truly value as a nation?