Child health organizations argue for maintaining DACA protections

In a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, several child health organizations argued that the Trump Administration’s plans to rescind DACA protections would cut off access to reliable health care for thousands of children in California. 

By some estimates more than 72,000 children across the state could lose their health care. California is home to more DACA recipients than any other state, according to the Center for American Progress. 

 

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While unauthorized immigrants, including DACA recipients, are not eligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act, one survey found that almost 60 percent of individuals eligible for DACA had obtained health insurance through their employers. Should DACA be rescinded, according to the brief, its recipients will lose their authorization to work.

Employers would likely terminate individuals as they lose work authorization, leading to job loss along with loss of health coverage. Job losses may also result in coverage losses for their children, who are often U.S.-born citizens.

In addition to the potential for health care to be lost in tandem with employment, former DACA recipients might also be less likely to seek medical care due to fear of deportation.

In spite of the fact that citizen-children have the right to health care, their parents may avoid encounters with providers for fear of discovery,” said researchers Luis H Zayas and Laurie Cook Heffron.”   

As stated by experts quoted in the brief, undocumented immigrants make fewer visits to health care providers as a result of increased fears over intensified immigration enforcement measures. In one study, the Urban Institute found that one-seventh of adults immigrants reported avoiding non-cash public benefits during the past year due to concerns about their immigration status. 

“A political climate that tolerates migration criminalization rhetoric has served to create what’s been called a chilling effect—reduction, due to fear rather than eligibility changes, in the number of undocumented immigrants willing to interact with staff at public agencies or enroll themselves or their children in health plans or other benefits”, said Dr. Isha Marina Di Bartolo of Cooper Health.

Not only do gaps in coverage lead to negative outcomes, the brief also states that a lack of consistent treatment for children has been linked to increased health care costs.