At Subcommittee Hearing, Democrats Call for Equal Health Care Access for DACA Recipients

Jul 19, 2023
Press Release
Committee Democrats Affirmed the Right of DACA Recipients to Access the Financial and Health-Related Successes of the Affordable Care Act

Washington, D.C. (July 19, 2023)— Rep. Katie Porter, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Health Care and Financial Services, led Subcommittee Democrats in affirming quality health care as the right of every person, including recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protections.


This hearing isn’t about putting up guardrails, it’s about ripping away a safety net.  It’s telling people who have followed the rules of the DACA program that  they can’t access health care,” said Ranking Member Porter in her opening statement.


The hearing included testimony from Dr. Ellen Montz, Deputy Administrator and Director, Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.


Subcommittee Democrats reiterated that DACA recipients—who are lawfully present in the U.S.—deserve basic access to health care.


  • Rep. Greg Casar pointed out that DACA recipients pay into our health care system already:  “I still cannot understand from the Republican majority why they think that DACA recipients, who are paying billions of dollars in taxes to pay for health care programs, should not have health insurance and should instead go to the emergency room.”


  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez underscored the value that DACA recipients bring to the United States and debunked GOP claims about the proposed rule noting, “the idea that this would somehow act as an incentive, when any DACA eligibility ended in 2007, over a dozen years ago, is laughable.”


  • Rep. Summer Lee highlighted that DACA recipients are already living and working in the United States “My Republican colleagues pretend that DACA recipients are not already here paying taxes, picking up kids from school, and accessing our public health system.”  Rep. Lee continued, “Just like everyone else in this country, they deserve more than just emergency care.  They deserve affordable prescription drugs and access to comprehensive health care and preventative treatments.:


Subcommittee Democrats fact-checked inaccurate claims about our borders and highlighted the consequences of Republican policies. 


  • Ranking Member Porter rebutted Republican falsehoods, saying, “There is no real connection between health care for DACA recipients who have been here since before 2007 and anything that is happening at our border.”  She cited findings from hours of transcribed interviews with Chief Patrol Agents, noting that “not one U.S. Border Patrol Chief Agent mentioned access to health care as a reason for migration to the southwest border or a concern for border security.”


  • Rep. Jasmine Crockett emphasized the importance of health care access for maternal health, particularly in the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, which overturned 50 years of precedent recognizing abortion as a fundamental right. Republicans, Crockett said, “have decided that all women should just bear all the children, and not have any rights to decide what they’re going to do. And so, even under this set of circumstances, they think that it’s great that all women should just be pregnant, but they don’t want them to have any access to health care.  That sounds like a half-baked idea to me—to say that, ‘Forget life when it comes to, say, the life of the mother.’”


  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez observed that “we are having this hearing on the heels of Governor Abbott in Texas issuing an order to Texas troopers to push children and infants into the Rio Grande River.  And now we’re having a hearing today about why we should push people who were brought here as children off of health care coverage.”


Subcommittee Democrats supported building on the successes of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion, which have saved countless lives and reduced exploding health care costs.

  • Rep. Summer Lee emphasized the importance of CMS’s proposed rule expanding health care access, stating that “[w]e’re talking about closing a gap in health care coverage for about 129,000 people with legal status in this country.  Health care is a human right, and it should be available to everyone who resides in this country.”  Rep. Lee continued, “Health care coverage ensures that people are accessing services before they are critically sick.  It encourages the use of preventative resources like cancer screenings and routine vaccinations.”


  • In response to a question on how the proposed rule would expand access to health care, Dr. Montz underscored the economic benefits of broader access to health care insurance:  “When an individual is insured, that individual is better able to keep themselves healthy—for example, go to the doctor, receive preventive services.  Keeping yourself healthy also means you can be more productive at your job, in the workforce, for the economy.  Studies have shown that individuals who are insured have 70% lower rates of absenteeism in the workforce.”  Dr. Montz also noted that health care costs for uninsured people are ultimately “incurred by local, state, and federal government.”


  • Rep. Jasmine Crockett linked the need for the proposed rule to the maternal mortality crisis in the United States, saying:  “We have been talking about the fact that we have a terrible maternal mortality rate in this country.  And when you start talking about people of color or people of lower socioeconomic means, that rate goes up even more astronomically.”



118th Congress