HHS approves Washington state request to offer health insurance to illegal immigrants, citing ‘health equity’

President Biden’s administration will allow Washington state to provide health insurance to illegal immigrants within its borders by rolling back requirements for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

The Department of the Treasury and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) approved the state’s request via a State Innovation Waiver, which was requested by Washington government in May. 

‘Washington has requested a waiver in order to expand access to qualified health plans, stand-alone qualified dental plans, and a state affordability program to Washington residents regardless of immigration status,’ the HHS and Treasury said in a joint statement.

The statement continued, ‘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 ACA’s normal regulations explicitly exclude non-citizens living in the U.S. illegally from collecting the benefits of the program. 

Washington’s successful campaign to expand coverage to illegal immigrants is the first of its kind since the ACA was introduced.

State Innovation Waivers are granted under the supervision of the HHS and Treasury for states seeking to modify existing ACA regulations to suit their specific needs.

‘Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) permits a state to apply for a State Innovation Waiver (also referred to as section 1332 waiver) to pursue innovative strategies for providing residents with access to high quality, affordable health insurance while retaining the basic protections of the ACA,’ according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

In their statement, the departments said that the approved modification of Washington’s ACA, contingent upon the state accepting ‘specific terms and conditions,’ would be valid from 2024 through 2028.

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