The Joe Biden administration has approved an application by Washington state to expand health insurance for all residents regardless of immigration status by enabling it to forgo requirements set by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Treasury Department approved Washington’s application for a State Innovation Waiver, issued under Section 1332 of the ACA. The application for this waiver was submitted in May.
According to the two departments, this waiver will expand access to qualified health plans, stand-alone qualified dental plans and a state affordability program to Washington residents regardless of their 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 approval of this waiver is contingent on the state accepting specific terms and conditions. If these requirements are agreed on, then the waiver will go into effect from the beginning of 2024 to the end of 2028.
A state may apply for a 1332 request if it wishes to pursue “innovative strategies” for providing affordable health care while still retaining protections offered through the ACA.
Roughly 20 other states have applied for and received approval of ACA Section 1332 waivers, including Alaska, Georgia, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. In cases where applications were not approved, the agencies often determined that they were incomplete.
In a similar move to Washington state’s, Colorado expanded affordable health care coverage to include people living in the U.S. illegally.