President Obama’s recent executive order extending legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants in this country has become a fulcrum of partisan debate. Advocates for immigrant communities have expressed disappointment that the order does not extend benefits of the Affordable Care Act to people whose status is now protected. The Obama administration has indicated immigrants who demonstrate the ability to pay taxes for at least five years will eventually become eligible, but has maintained throughout the public debate they would not immediately receive benefits.
Analysis by Bloomberg News says this has not prevented conservative critics from suggesting the order will result in millions of illegal immigrants getting medical benefits, even as immigrant advocates complain about their stakeholders being left out.
For the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States and the medical providers who serve them, the executive order doesn’t actually change much.
The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research reports that many immigrants access care at “safety net” community clinics and hospital emergency rooms. These clinics receive some federal reimbursement for care through emergency Medicaid and the Medicaid Disproportionate Care Hospital Program.
Politico’s analysis suggests that there may still be an uptick in the number of people in some immigrant communities who buy health insurance. That’s because legal residents who have undocumented relatives may feel more comfortable signing up for benefits.