New York State Health Foundation

Shortcut Navigation:

Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Embarks on Campaign to Reach Uninsured Immigrant New Yorkers Eligible for DACA

Supported by the New York State Health Foundation, Campaign Aims to Reach More Than 300,000 New Yorkers to Increase Awareness of Medicaid Eligibility for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Recipients

February 17, 2016 (NEW YORK) – The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) and the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) announced today an NYSHealth grant to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City to support a forthcoming public education and advertising campaign to increase awareness of Medicaid eligibility and facilitate enrollment among income-eligible Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and currently undocumented potential DACA applicants. This new DACA Health Access campaign will reach more than 300,000 immigrants through targeted advertising, public education materials, and centralized resources. This campaign will be the largest effort across the country to highlight low-income DACA recipients’ potential Medicaid eligibility and other benefits.

Since President Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, MOIA has worked with other government agencies, legal services providers, and community-based organizations to inform New Yorkers and help eligible immigrants apply for the DACA program. DACA provides temporary protection from deportation, access to a work authorization and a Social Security number, and opportunity to pay taxes for young immigrants who came to the United States as children, are in school or have graduated from high school, and meet other eligibility rules.

Although federal policy does not offer Medicaid for income-eligible DACA recipients, a few jurisdictions—New York, California, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia—use their own funds to provide public health insurance for income-eligible DACA recipients and others who qualify for PRUCOL status. However, research has shown that many eligible immigrants and DACA recipients in those states remain unaware of potential health insurance access, tax credits, and other benefits of DACA— benefits that can make a meaningful positive impact on the lives of immigrant families and on the city. For example, a new report by Young Invincibles, which was released this week, finds that the majority of young adult immigrants don’t know they may qualify for Medicaid with DACA status. This campaign will help connect DACA recipients to health insurance coverage and will help inform immigrants who have not yet applied for DACA about the benefits of doing so. In 2013 approximately 63.9 percent or 345,000, of the City’s undocumented individuals were uninsured. The uninsured rate for undocumented immigrants is more than three times that of other noncitizens in New York City (20%) and more than six times greater than the uninsured rate for the rest of the City (10%). Greater awareness of health insurance coverage may serve as the best incentive to encourage undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows and apply for deferred action.

“We believe New York City’s immigrant communities should have the ability to live their lives freely. This includes access to health care and access to legal protection,” said Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “This campaign is an important step in ensuring all New Yorkers who qualify for DACA are aware of their options, and know about the powerful benefits of DACA, including access to healthcare.”

"There is a lot of misunderstanding about immigrants' eligibility for health coverage," said James R. Knickman, president and CEO of NYSHealth. "This public education campaign will speak directly and unequivocally to immigrants about their eligibility and encourage thousands to enroll in health insurance coverage they need and deserve." This campaign’s objectives will be to implement the City’s ongoing work to increase DACA enrollment by tailoring Medicaid-related and other messaging to the hard-to-reach individuals who have not applied for DACA, as well as to connect existing DACA recipients who are income-eligible to Medicaid enrollment assistance and other DACA benefits.

“One of the priorities of the Mayor’s Fund is to empower immigrant communities across the city to succeed. This campaign will give hundreds of thousands of uninsured DACA recipients access to Medicaid, providing some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers with the tools they need to stay healthy, and potentially helping us take important cost-savings steps within our public health systems. We are proud to a part of this project and grateful to the New York State Health Foundation for their support,” said Darren Bloch, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund.

In 2014, MOIA’s DACA campaign was the City’s first-ever mass marketing campaign focused exclusively on immigrants. In January 2015, MOIA helped launch IDNYC, the nation’s largest municipal ID program, including an extensive and ongoing advertising and public education effort that targets New York City’s diverse immigrant communities. The DACA Health Care Access campaign will begin to reach New York’s immigrant communities in the spring and summer of 2016.

“Young adult non-citizen immigrants are uninsured at a higher rate than their older immigrant counterparts and citizen peers, so reaching this group with information about their healthcare options is incredibly important,” said Kevin Stump, Northeast Director for Young Invincibles. “Our new report released today analyzes the healthcare challenges that face young adult immigrants in New York City, and it finds that the majority of young adult immigrants don’t know they may qualify for Medicaid with DACA status, if income-eligible. Immigrants make up the vibrant culture and community that is New York. Supporting the health and wellness of our young adult immigrants is supporting our city now and in the future. This new campaign is an important step in doing just that.”