The Biden administration announced Friday the new plan to expand health care to more than 100,000 young immigrants protected by DACA. AFP

The White House announces a new initiative to expand health care coverage to more than 100,000 young immigrants protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This is the first time recipients will be covered since the program was implemented over a decade ago.

In a statement, President Biden said his administration seeks to "preserve and fortify" the DACA program, which allows so-called "dreamers"— those who were brought into the country without documentation as children— to work and live in the United States.

"Dreamers are our loved ones, teachers, and small business owners. And they deserve the promise of health care just like all of us," Biden said Friday. "... And that's why today we are taking this historic step to ensure that DACA recipients have the same access to health care through the Affordable Care Act as their neighbors."

Since the program was established in 2012 under the Obama administration, DACA recipients had been barred from accessing federally funded health insurance despite contributing billions of dollars to the economy in federal taxes, pouring funds into the nation's federal health insurance system for years.

While many DACA recipients get health insurance through their jobs, more than a quarter are estimated to currently be uninsured, NBC News reports.

Under the plan, DACA participants who have previously been excluded from enrolling in a qualified health plan or a basic health program through the Affordable Care Act will be allowed to do so, the Washington Post reports.

The new policy will become effective Nov. 1, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. After that, newly eligible individuals will be able to select a qualifying health plan through the federal marketplaces during a special 60-day enrollment period, which will coincide with the 2025 open enrollment period for all other applicants.

"More than one third of DACA recipients currently do not have health insurance, so making them eligible to enroll in coverage will improve their health and wellbeing, and help the overall economy," Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

The department also noted that those without health insurance are less likely to receive preventive or routine health screenings, incurring high costs and debts when they do seek care.

The announcement comes about a year after the Biden administration first announced his plans to expand health coverage to DACA recipients. The administration's original plan aimed to implement the federal rule by November 3, but it is not yet known why the measure was delayed.

The move also coincides with an election year in which immigration has become a major focal point. This decision stands in sharp contrast to former president Donald Trump's efforts to curtail protections for DACA recipients.

In an email Friday, a representative for the Trump campaign described Biden's move to expand health care for DACA recipients as "handouts for illegal immigrants," according to The Washington Post.

"Joe Biden continues to force hardworking, tax-paying, struggling Americans to pay for the housing, welfare, and now the healthcare of illegal immigrants," Trump campaign spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt wrote. "This is unfair and unsustainable... President Trump will put America and the American worker first."

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