DHS Releases Proof of Citizenship Guidance
The Department of Health Services last month sent a letter to about 1,100 county leaders, health care agency workers and others outlining the state's interpretation of a federal proof of citizenship requirement to qualify for Medi-Cal benefits, the Oakland Tribune reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 8/13).
Under the law, individuals seeking care through Medicaid must show proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a birth certificate, passport or other form of identification. The law's intent is to prevent undocumented immigrants from claiming to be citizens to receive benefits provided only to legal residents (California Healthline, 8/1).
Stan Rosenstein, deputy director of medical care services at DHS, said there are three areas within the law in which the state will have some flexibility:
- California likely will have five tiers of acceptable proof of citizenship documents, ranging from a U.S. passport to written affidavits signed by at least two people who care verify citizenship;
- The state will not cancel benefits for Medi-Cal beneficiaries who are trying to find their documents. Some beneficiaries will have up to three months to present the proof, Rosenstein said;
- The state will try to match citizens born in California to an existing state database of birth certificates.
This year's state budget includes funds that will allow counties to hire and train additional workers to comply with the rules, but the funds have not yet been released, according to Brady Oppenheim, a spokesperson for the California State Association of Counties.
However, the law could affect county programs to streamline Medi-Cal applications, such as an online eligibility project in Alameda County that must be redesigned to include an original document requirement.
The California Budget Project on Thursday sent a letter to HHS officials asking that the law be modified to exempt some people. The group estimates that 650,000 people in California will not have a passport or birth certificate to prove citizenship and that an additional 200,000 people will need help obtaining the documents.
The group also said children who received Medi-Cal benefits at birth should not have to prove citizenship.
In California, people who are dually eligible for Medi-Cal and Medicare will not have to provide proof of citizenship. The law also will exempt about two million legal or undocumented immigrants who are eligible for certain Medi-Cal benefits (Oakland Tribune, 8/13).