Congress Should Modify Medicaid Documentation Rule
"Exaggerated fears that illegal immigrants are fraudulently receiving Medicaid health benefits have led to a crackdown that is preventing tens of thousands of American citizens from obtaining legitimate coverage," and Congress "needs to fix" the situation, a New York Times editorial states.
According to the editorial, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2006 includes a provision that requires Medicaid applicants to provide proof of citizenship, such as a passport or a birth certificate, which "many have difficulty tracking down or paying for." The "fruits of that policy are becoming visible" as states have reported related decreases in Medicaid enrollment, and the "most appalling impact falls on infants born to illegal immigrants whose deliveries were paid for by Medicaid," the editorial states.
Such infants, who are U.S. citizens, "must wait until their skittish parents obtain a birth certificate before they can get vital infant care that should begin at birth," according to the editorial.
"Congress needs to move quickly to fix this problem" through legislation that would make enrollment of eligible infants in Medicaid automatic and should seek to "simplify the Medicaid application process instead of making it more onerous," the editorial states, adding, "That would be fairer to qualified applicants and could help reduce the ranks of the uninsured" (New York Times, 3/19).