More Than 400K Immigrants Lose Federal Exchange Coverage
More than 400,000 immigrants have lost health coverage they selected through the Affordable Care Act's federal insurance exchange because of unresolved eligibility issues, The Hill's "Briefing Room" reports (Richardson, "Briefing Room," The Hill, 9/12).
Under the ACA, there is a 95-day window for resolving documentation issues related to citizenship and immigration. No such timeline existed in 2014 because it was the first year of coverage through HealthCare.gov.
HHS spokesperson Ben Wakana said that last year, "we had the authority to provide consumers more flexibility -- we were not taking action on the strict timeline," adding, "In 2015, we moved to the timeline of about three months, so consumers need to act quickly to submit supporting documentation" (Alonso-Zaldivar, AP/Yahoo! News, 9/12).
Some advocates have argued that the administration's system for verifying eligibility is confusing, preventing those who are legally eligible for benefits from receiving them. The National Immigration Law Center has said many individuals who had their coverage canceled are likely eligible for the benefits but did not know which documents they had to submit ("Briefing Room," The Hill, 9/12).
Angel Padilla, a health policy analyst at NILC, said the 95-day timeframe would not be so problematic if the administration would clearly explain what documentation is needed to resolve the issues. Padilla said, "If it was clearer what the consumer needed to do, we wouldn't have the numbers that we have" losing coverage.
Meanwhile, the number of individuals whose health coverage has been terminated could be higher, as the 400,000 total only includes individuals who selected health plans through the federal exchange. It does not account for individuals in states that run their own exchanges, such as California and New York, both of which run their own exchanges and have large immigrant populations (AP/Yahoo! News, 9/12).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.