MEDICAID: HCFA Says States Illegally Deny Benefits
Many states are illegally denying families who leave welfare their Medicaid benefits, according to a federal audit of 40 states. Nine months ago, HCFA warned states that new welfare laws should not prevent eligible families from receiving Medicaid, but the audit revealed several problems:
HCFA Director Nancy-Ann DeParle said, "I was very disappointed when I saw this. I can't say whether these are significant willful failures or mistakes." DeParle said HCFA will investigate the problems and force states to fix them once the audit is finished. As for the existing problems, DeParle said, "It's surprising to us that states would think that's OK." Part of the problem comes from new welfare rules that separate welfare and Medicaid, which previously "went hand in hand." Families USA President Ron Pollack said that the problem "is cultural and hard to fix." He added, "The measure of one's success has been determined by how many people were dropped from the welfare rolls. How do you distinguish and say, 'Well, the reverse is true with respect to Medicaid?'" (Meckler, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/15).
This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
- States do not tell individuals they are eligible for Medicaid when they are discouraged from applying for welfare;
- Some state computers automatically erase individuals from Medicaid enrollment when they leave welfare;
- Caseworkers hassle families applying for Medicaid.