Biden administration approves Washington state request to offer health insurance to undocumented immigrants

The Biden administration has approved an application by Washington state to expand health insurance access to all residents regardless of immigration status, allowing it to waive requirements set by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Treasury Department approved Washington’s application for a state innovation waiver issued under Section 1332 of the ACA. The application for this exemption was submitted in May.

1332 What is a Waiver?

A state can apply for a 1332 petition if it wants to pursue “innovative strategies” to provide affordable health care while still retaining the protections offered through the ACA.

The Secretary of HHS may approve a 1332 waiver request if they determine that the proposed plan would provide coverage at least as broad as that provided without the waiver, which the Washington State plan found to do.

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The exception is the Evergreen State

Washington State sought to provide an exception to a section of the ACA that specifically excluded people living in the United States illegally from qualifying for qualified health plans, which are plans guaranteed by the federal government that meet the requirements set forth by the ACA.

According to the two departments, the waiver will expand access to qualified health plans, independent qualified dental plans and a state affordability program for Washingtonians regardless of their immigration status.

“This waiver will help Washington work toward its goals of improving health equity and reducing racial disparities by expanding access to coverage for uninsured populations through state exchanges, but will not increase costs for those currently enrolled,” the department said in a statement. Said. .

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Approval of this waiver depends on the specific terms and conditions of the accepting state. If these requirements are met, the waiver will run from the beginning of 2024 to the end of 2028.

While the newly approved waiver does not go into effect next year, the White House noted in its approval that Washington state has earmarked fiscal 2023 funding for a state subsidy program called Cascade Care Savings. The program offers premium subsidies to residents who get plans through Washington Healthplanfinder and make up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level.

For 2023, 50 million dollars were allocated for this program. With the approval of the waiver, an additional $5 million will be available for these subsidies beginning next year.

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Not the only one

Approximately 20 other states have applied for and been approved for ACA Section 1332 waivers, including Alaska, Georgia, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. In cases where applications were not approved, agencies often determined that they were incomplete.

In a move similar to Washington state, Colorado expanded affordable health care coverage to include people living in the United States illegally. While Colorado has approved its own ACA waivers, the expansion to include residents regardless of immigration status was done through the state’s own programs and did not include federal coverage.


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