The Senate’s version of the Obamacare replacement bill maintains a considerable degree of eligibility for non-citizens, including beneficiaries of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).
Existing law – “Obamacare” includes provisions for immigrants with “Temporary Protected Status”, (TPS). By definition, “Temporary Protected Status” involves (according to Wiki) “immigrants in the United States who are temporarily unable to safely return to their home country because of ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.”
The full list of present eligibility includes the following classifications:
- Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR/Green Card holder)
- Cuban/Haitian Entrant
- Paroled into the U.S.
- Conditional Entrant Granted before 1980
- Battered Spouse, Child and Parent
- Victim of Trafficking and his/her Spouse, Child, Sibling or Parent
- Granted Withholding of Deportation or Withholding of Removal, under the immigration laws or under the Convention against Torture (CAT)
- Individual with Non-immigrant Status, includes worker visas (such as H1, H-2A, H-2B), student visas, U-visa, T-visa, and other visas, and citizens of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau
- Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
- Deferred Enforced Departure (DED)
- Deferred Action Status (Exception: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is not an eligible immigration status for applying for health insurance)
- Lawful Temporary Resident
- Administrative order staying removal issued by the Department of Homeland Security
- Member of a federally-recognized Indian tribe or American Indian Born in Canada
- Resident of American Samoa
The TPS category involves, according to USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services), 439,625 individuals as of December 2016. Though the name TPS includes the word, temporary – there are in fact a number of individuals in that status that have been in the U.S. for as many as 15 years.
An early draft of the Senate bill had a provision instructing the Treasury Department to review data maintained by the Department of Homeland Security in order to verify that healthcare tax credits are provided only to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. However, the Senate Parliamentarian removed that portion of the proposed statute, because in its opinion, it grants the Senate Finance Committee improper purview over DHS.
When the GOP Obamacare replacement, alternately described as ‘Trumpcare’ or ‘Ryancare’, was being crafted in the House, Congressman Lou Barletta (R-PA), objected to the failure to remove healthcare tax credits from the legislation:
I am concerned that the bill lacks sufficient safeguards for verifying whether or not an individual applying for health care tax credits is lawfully in this country and eligible to receive them. Under Obamacare, a half a million people received a total of $750 million in health care subsidies, even though the recipients could not prove their lawful presence in the United States. I cannot vote for a replacement plan that fails to address this problem.