The Biden administration has approved the expansion of health insurance for all residents of Washington state regardless of immigration status by allowing it to waive the requirement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Treasury Department approved the measure for a State Innovation Waiver, issued under section 1332 of the ACA.
A state may apply for a 1332 request if it wishes to pursue "innovation strategies" for providing affordable healthcare while maintaining protections offered through the ACA.
The HHS Secretary could approve a 1332 waiver request if the proposed plan provides coverage at the minimum as comprehensive as coverage provided without the waiver.
Washington state sought an exemption from a part of the ACA that excluded illegal migrants from health plans. The plans are certified by the federal government and meet the ACA requirements.
According to the two departments, this waiver expands health plans, stand-alone dental plans and state affordability programs to all Washington residents regardless of immigration status.
"The waiver will help Washington work towards its goals of improving health equity and reducing racial disparities by expanding access to coverage for the uninsured population through the state Exchange, all the while not increasing costs for those currently enrolled," the departments said in a statement.
The state must accept the specific terms and conditions for the waiver to be approved. Upon approval, the waiver would go into effect from the start of 2024 to the end of 2028.
The White House noted its approval and has allocated 2023 fiscal year funds for a state subsidy program called Cascade Care Savings. The program offers subsidies to residents who get plans through Washington Healthplanfinders and make up 250% of the federal poverty line.
About 20 other states have applied for as well as received approval for ACA section 1332 waivers. Alaska, Georgia, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania are among them. In instances where the applications were not approved, agencies have often regarded them as incomplete.
Similarly, Colorado has expanded affordable healthcare coverage to those living illegally in the U.S. Colorado has attained approval for its own ACA waivers, but this particular expansion includes residents regardless of immigration status was done through the state’s own program, not including federal coverage.
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